WATERTOWN, Wis. -- Tonight was about heart and determination, and the Sabercats had both.
With a gritty five-set win over St. Norbert, the Sabercats have increased their program record up to seven wins and are showing no signs of stopping.
- Result: Maranatha 3-2 St. Norbert (23-25, 25-14, 25-19, 23-25, 15-5)
- Venue: Maranatha Baptist University
- Location: Watertown, Wis.
- Attendance: 151
- Records: MBU (7-10), SNC (3-10)
The Sabercats had the lead in the first set but couldn't hold on to it. Sloppy hitting was their ultimate downfall, as they posted 11 hitting errors in the first set alone to give St. Norbert a 23-25 win.
But the same element that held the Sabercats back in the opening set proved to be a catalyst for a commanding win in the second. Phillip Holbrook and Joel Depue had some big swings at big times, and some determined defense from Steve Wagner kept the ball in play. The Sabercats swung their way to a 25-14 win thanks to a potent combination of firepower and scrappy defending, and the Green Knights were left reeling.
Maranatha carried that momentum into the third set. As would be the case all night, the MBU block got the touches they needed, giving the defense extra time to make their passes count. Thanks to that sharp passing, the Sabercats hit at a match-high 40 percent in the third frame, as all parts of their game came together in a 25-19 set win.
But St. Norbert stuck with it. In a close fourth set, the Green Knights kept it so close that neither team had more than a two-point lead in the set.
It was a battle of wills, as the Sabercats finally succumbed to the visitors' pressure, allowing three straight points in the last rallies. After a 25-23 St. Norbert win, the match was heading to a fitting ending: one final set to 15.
When the match was on the line, the Sabercats couldn't miss. Two aces from Joel Smith and kills from Depue and Isaac McKee were part of a match-ending 8-0 run for the Blue and Gold, who rode the momentum of a night of hard work (and a supportive home crowd) en route to closing out another valuable win on the MBU campus.
MBU Starters: 3- Massey, 4- McKee, 5- Dafoe, 6- Rossiter, 8- Depue, 12-Holbrook
- Holbrook: 16 K
- Depue: 13 K, 21 D
- McKee: 9 K, 3 B
- Rory Massey: 6 K, 9 D, 6 B
- Taylor Dafoe: 49 AST
- Smith: 12 D, 4 SA
- Wagner: 11 D
- Series: This was the first match of the series
- SNC competes in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NCAA DIII)
- SNC has yet to begin conference play
- SNC is playing in the NACC for the first time
The Sabercats will stay at home for a 7:00 p.m. matchup with Concordia Wisconsin on Thursday night. Stay updated at mbusabercats.com/schedule.