WATERTOWN, Wis. -- The 2020 Sabercats Men's Volleyball team had a disappointing fate to their season, but what they did on the court was unforgettable.
Not only did the team set a program record in just about everything, but they also ended their season in the most thrilling way possible: by rallying from a two-set deficit to beat Graceland University 3-2.
The Graceland game marked a record ninth win of the season for the young program, as the team has made marked improvement over their first three seasons of intercollegiate competition.
Before the Graceland game, a final-day win at the NCCAA National Invitational started a three-game winning streak for MBU, and they would follow that up with a stretch of four straight wins in the middle of the season. That four-game winning streak included five-set wins over NACC opponents Marian and St. Norbert. The win over Marian was the first time the Sabercats had defeated the Sabres, and that win cemented the reality that this season would be a milestone for the fledgling program.
"I couldn't be happier to have nine wins," said senior captain Taylor Dafoe, who set program records of 661 total assists and 8.26 assists per set. "We worked so hard during the fall semester, and there was definitely a huge difference to this season from the previous two seasons - there was just such a different mentality. We went from learning the game to knowing our roles and being confident coming in. We had a winning mentality and we knew we could compete and win against some good schools."
The Sabercats ended the season with two more wins, as the season-capping Graceland triumph was preceded by a 3-0 dusting of Rockford University.
Amidst a season of high notes, the disappointment came on March 11, which was the date of the Graceland game. That would become senior night, as the Sabercats saw their final three matches cancelled that day due to the coronavirus outbreak. The team knew that it was their final chance to play, and they made the most of the chance.
"Words just can't describe how intense it is to play a fifth set," Dafoe said. "We worked really hard to come back [against Graceland, and we were exhausted in that fifth set. But we knew that the chances were on our side and the fans were on our side as well. Graceland was an extremely good team, and we just came out hard and we were excited to end the season like that."
At a Glance
- Record: 9-14
- NCCAA National Invitational: 7th
- Home Record: 5-3
- Notable: Program record in every statistical category except for aces
The good news for the Sabercats is that the turnover will be minimal for next year. And Dafoe and the rest of the squad are confident in the team's skill and cohesion.
"Our chemistry was extraordinary this year," Dafoe said. "The freshmen fit in and adapted really quickly. With a couple of recruits coming in, we think we can have a winning season next year. We are really looking forward to it."
For more on the program, visit their team page HERE.