Sabercats Conquer Pilots in Regional Championship Thriller

Sabercats Conquer Pilots in Regional Championship Thriller

MINNEAPOLIS – The NCCAA #1-ranked Sabercats were in a fight to the death with the #2-ranked Pilots of Providence University College, and emerged triumphant with a thrilling 3-2 win in a classic, back-and-forth battle. Alison Renz recorded a career-best 27 kills to lift the Sabercats to the top of the region.

The Basics

  • Result: Sabercats 3-2 Pilots
  • Venue: College Life Center Gymnasium
  • Attendance: 75
  • Sabercats: now 21-5 for the season, 7-0 in NCCAA play

How it Happened

  • MBU 20-25 PUC
    • The first set was a story of significant momentum swings. After precise Sabercat attacking launched the favorites out to a 7-4 lead, the Pilots stated their case with conviction as they mounted a 13-3 run to turn the match on its head. Not to be outdone, the Sabercats replied with an 8-1 run of their own - which was lead by Alison Renz's four kills – to tie the match at 18. The Pilots had the last laugh of the match-opener, though, as they recorded five unanswered points to win it by five (0-1)
  • MBU 25-21 PUC
    • In a much different story from the first set, the second set was tightly contested so that neither side owned more than a four-point lead throughout. Renz recorded seven kills in the second set, and was supported by Madeline Thompson, who also recorded a career-best 17 kills on the day. The turning point came when MBU was down 17-19 and came back with five unanswered points to take the momentum into the closing points of the set (1-1)
  • MBU 25-17 PUC
    • After the close-knit second set, the Sabercats came back for an encore performance and the most decisive set win of the match. To start the set, the Sabercats needed a wake-up call, it seemed, and it came from a 7-1 Pilots run right out of the gate. Julia Gunst, Renz, and Thompson teamed up to even the score at eight, and the Sabercats never looked back from then on as they cruised to a 19-12 lead. Katie Bender kept the defense tight with a career-high 30 digs while Thompson kept adding to her own career night, and the Sabercats seemed to be heading to a four-set win (2-1)
  • MBU 24-26 PUC
    • It was not to be, as the Pilots won the fourth set after the Sabercats forced a late tie. The Pilots had three chances at match point, but were haunted by errors at the net. The miscue seemed to be what the Pilots needed, however, as they regrouped and recorded two more points to send the match to a fitting final set (2-2)
  • MBU 15-11 PUC
    • The Pilots seemed to be reversing last year's national championship result when they jumped out to a 9-5 lead, but a corageous 10-2 Sabercat run ultimately won the match outright. After some Providence miscues – coupled with kills from Alexis Johnson and Alison Renz - shifted the momentum back in the Sabercats favor, Kelsey Johnson applied the finishing touches to the match when her attack was blocked out of bounds on the right side. After a thrilling hour and a half of competition, the Sabercats had officially punched their ticket to the NCCAA DII National Tournament (3-2)


  • The match between MBU and PUC was a rematch of the 2015 NCCAA National Championship match
  • Alison Renz was named the 2016 NCCAA North Region Player of the Year
  • Katie Bender was named the 2016 NCCAA North Region Libero of the Year
  • Renz was joined on the All-Regional first team by Bender and Alexis Johnson
  • Julia Gunst garned 2nd-Team All-Region honors
  • In the match, Alison Renz (27 kills), Madeline Thompson (17 kills) and Katie Bender (30 digs) all recorded career-bests in their relevant stat categories
  • When Providence won the first set, it marked the first time in over a year that the Sabercats had dropped a set in NCCAA play (October 31, 2015 vs Moody Bible)
  • The Regional Title was the Sabercats' sixth regional title in the last seven years

Up Next

  • The Sabercats will await their seeding for the 2016 NCCAA DII National volleyball Tournament in Kissimeee, Florida on November 17-19.
  • Follow for more details regarding the national tournament including seedings, schedules, and live coverage information.
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