WATERTOWN, Wis. -- After three consecutive NCCAA DII national titles, the Sabercats are pursuing a fourth straight championship. The target's on their backs, and the paint has been refreshed after last year's win. The weight of the three titles - coupled with three key players gone from the starting rotation - makes the Sabercats' job their toughest one yet.
At least, it will be for this particular group of players.
FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
- This group of players has earned an NCCAA record of 38-1 over the last three seasons. Their only loss was to Kentucky Christian University at last year's Faith Spikefest Tournament. MBU would go on to sweep KCU at Nationals to with the national title.
- This year, the Sabercats don't have a single senior.
- The Sabercats typically have to fight off Providence University College to win the North Region crown, but the Sabercats will not face the Pilots during the regular season.
- Maranatha returns eight players from last year's roster.
- NCCAA Regionals will be held at Faith Baptist Bible College, November 1-3.
FEATURED HOME MATCHES
- vs Emmaus - 9.11 - This will be the Sabercats' second match against an NCCAA North Region opponent.
- Maranatha Tri - 9.28 - MBU will take on Finlandia University and Northland College
- vs MSOE (Parents' Night) - 9.29 - The Raiders (NACC) typically pose problems for MBU, but Maranatha picked up a hard-earned 3-1 win over MSOE last year at the MSOE Invitational.
- Maranatha Tri - 10.13 - In the second triangular that MBU hosts, the Sabercats take on Alverno and a second team that is still TBD.
Jessica Ureke and McKenzie Janke will spearhead the defensive duties for the Blue and Gold. Janke enters her third season for Maranatha and has played 36 matches while compiling 91 digs. Ureke has 46 matches to her name and she picked up 157 digs last year.
Sisters Karley and Kelsey Johnson return to the floor for Maranatha. Karley is approaching the 1,000 career assist mark and the 500 career digs mark. Kelsey has logged over 300 kills and 500 digs in her two-year career so far.
Claire Hansel and Gabrielle Carpenter round off the front line. Both players will have to step up to fill the holes left by Lexi Bueltel and Madeline Suderman from last year. Hansel has recorded 236 career kills and - most notable - the match-winning point from the NCCAA DII title match last season. Carpenter overcame a mid-season injury last season and finished her sophomore year with 101 kills.
The quest for the fourpeat starts today as the Sabercats travel to Faith Baptist Bible College to compete with NCCAA teams for the Faith Spikefest Tournament. For details regarding the tournament, visit mbusabercats.com/composite.