PALOS HEIGHTS, Ill. -- Tomorrow, the Sabercats Men's Volleyball Team makes their second appearance at the newly revitalized NCCAA National Invitational.
As the #8 seed, the Sabercats have the tall order of taking on the hosting Trinity Christian College Trolls, as well as #4 Warner University and the defending champions and #1 seed, Ottawa University (Ariz.).
It'll be anything but easy.
Maranatha will play every team in Pool A, and the results of the pool play will determine the matchups for Saturday afternoon's final matches. Only the top team from both pools will have the chance to compete for the national title. The two second-place teams will play in the bronze-medal match, and the 5th- and 7th-place matches will be determined accordingly.
Here's a closer look at Pool A:
#8 Maranatha (0-3)
The Sabercats are the youngest program at the National Invitational, as the team is in just their third year as a varsity program. So far this season, the Sabercats have taken losses against NCAA DIII programs in Marian, Adrian, and North Park, and they have been improving even in that three-match stretch.
Maranatha will rely on their experience at last year's National Invitational, where they finished in 8th place after taking a gritty, four-set loss to Brewton-Parker College, who will not compete in this year's tournament.
#5 Trinity Christian (1-0)
The hosts can't be overlooked, as they are a not-so-dark horse entering this tournament. The only kicker with the Trolls is that they have only played one match this season, as they took a 3-2 win over Goshen.
Trinity took 4th place at last year's National Invitational, so they will be looking to get the results they felt they deserved in 2019. TCC will look to three underclassmen that all measure up to 6'7" at the shortest, so their height will be a factor as they defend their home court.
#4 Warner (0-1)
The Royals have also only played one match coming into the tournament. Warner was not at last year's invitational, so they will look to make a solid impression in the 2020 edition.
The Royals finished last season with a 6-7 record after a hot 3-1 start in the Mid-South Conference of the NAIA. Warner is used to playing polished programs, so they are a school to keep an eye on at the 2020 Invitational
#1 Ottawa (2-0)
The Spirit is easily the favorite team to win the 2020 tournament, as they enter the tournament as defending champs. In last year's final, the Spirit swept the #1-seeded Campbellsville University Tigers to earn the gold medal.
Ottawa has opened the 2020 season with wins over Gilbert Park and Arizona Christian, so they look as sharp as ever coming into the National Invitational.
Pool A at a glance:
|#1 Ottawa||Spirit||Surprise, Ariz.||2-0||Champion|
|#4 Warner||Royals||Lake Wales, Fla.||0-1||DNP|
|#5 Trinity Christian||Trolls||Palos Heights, Ill.||0-1||4th|
|#8 Maranatha||Sabercats||Watertown, Wis.||0-3||8th|
To follow the games at the 2020 tournament, visit mbusabercats.com/schedule.