Exceeding Expectations

Exceeding Expectations

WATERTOWN, Wis. -- Normally, a national semifinal finish for the Maranatha Women's Volleyball team would be somewhat of a disappointment. But what a young team did during the 2020 season was nothing short of exceptional.

A perfect 16-0 NCCAA record during the regular season is impressive enough, but doing it after you lose six seniors from your starting lineup? That's unusual. A team that was slated to have a rebuilding year built the most impressive regular-season record in all of NCCAA DII, captured their seventh straight NCCAA regional title, earned the top seed for NCCAA Nationals, and finished with a record of 19-5.

All this after losing six starters from 2019.

There's no debate: the 2020 team exceeded expectations.



Talking about the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season is basically "white noise" by now but it was a significant part of the players' mentality going into the season. The Sabercats didn't play any of their usual games on weekdays, but they didn't let the long weeks of practice dull their mindset or their execution - they started the season with eight consecutive NCCAA wins and only lost in a five-set thriller to Rochester University.

But just as soon as they had an eight-game streak snapped, they built another one. This time, they capped off an eight-game winning streak by cruising through six NCCAA North Region games without dropping a set.

After their dominant 13-0 regular-season record against NCCAA North Region opponents, two straight-set wins in the NCCAA North Region Tournament were imminent. Sure enough, the Sabercats stormed into Ankeny, Iowa and rolled away with defeats of Trinity Bible and Faith Baptist to capture the NCCAA North Region Title.

Their spotless NCCAA record made Maranatha the easy pick for the top seed at Nationals, and they swept Pensacola Christian in the opening game of the tournament. Even after a 3-2 loss to Randall University, the Sabercats were still into the NCCAA National Semifinal, squaring off against the Bob Jones University Bruins in a high-intensity rematch of the last two national championships.

As it played out, the run ended there. The Sabercats fell to the Bruins in four sets to mark an end to their title bid, a wild season, and an exceptional run for the 2020 team. 



  • Record: 19-5
  • NCCAA Record: 19-2
  • NCCAA Finish: National Semifinalist
  • Notable: Seventh consecutive NCCAA regional title
  • Notable: Four NCCAA All-American selections - a program record
  • Notable: Claire Hansel - NCCAA DII National Player of the Year



Recently, the Sabercats announced their team awards, which are listed below. In addition to these honors, the student-athletes earned awards from the National Christian College Athletic Association.

Front Row MVP Mattie Bumpus
Back Row MVP Emily Johnson
MVP Claire Hansel
Christian Teammate Award Regina Anderson
NCCAA All-Region Selections  
Mattie Bumpus Claire Hansel
Emily Johnson Caitrin Kemlo
NCCAA All-American 1st Team Selections     
Mattie Bumpus Claire Hansel
Emily Johnson  
AVCA All-Americans: NCCAA DII   
Mattie Bumpus Claire Hansel
Emily Johnson  
NCCAA All-American 2nd Team Selections     
Caitrin Kemlo  
NCCAA Scholar-Athletes (JR, SR, GS only)  
Claire Hansel Caitrin Kemlo
Jennifer Rueb Ellie Sopata


For more on the program, visit their team page HERE.

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A Look Back
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