KISSIMMEE, Fla. --- The 2016 NCCAA DII Volleyball Title Match was a highly-anticipated rematch of the 2015 championship, as the Sabercats clashed with their familiar foes and regional rivals, the Pilots of Providence University College. After three sets of exciting championship volleyball, the Sabercats pulled off the incredible: they repeated their 2015 feat by winning the NCCAA Division II National Championship without dropping a set.
- Result: Sabercats 3-0 Pilots
- Venue: Kissimee Civic Center
- Box Score: TBA | Attendance: 219
- Sabercats: finish at 7-0 in NCCAA Postseason play, 26-5 overall
How it Happened
- Set 1: MBU 25-13 PUC
- After a match-opening Pilots ace, the Sabercats answered with an assertive 9-1 drive which prompted the Pilots to call a timeout.
- Renz was her usual self at the net, as the senior's diverse attack led the killing early on for MBU. Kelsey Johnson and Madeline Thompson were a more-than-capable support staff, as their lives were made easier through sharp defensive passing from Katie Bender. The Sabercats well-rounded efforts kept them well in front of the Pilots, as the momentum was fixed squarely in the defending champs' favor.
- Providence posted a small rally mid-set, but the Sabercats stayed sharp and at least five points ahead throughout. Julia Gunst kept the Pilots guessing, as the senior supplemented her well-placed sets with a couple of dump kills that found the gaps in the Pilots' defense. Gunst posted five points in the opening set as the Sabercats won comfortably by a dozen points. (1-0)
- Set 2: MBU 25-11 PUC
- Once again, Renz led the attack like a senior playing in her final game, as her three kills helped put the Sabercats out to a 10-6 lead.
- Providence struggled through some attacking errors in the early going, which - added to the Sabercats sharp attack - helped the Sabercats gain firm control of the second set.
- For the most part, the Sabercats doubled the Pilots score in the second set, as they began to pull away late on. The Pilots could not shake their errors, and the Sabercat defense was scrappy - Alexis Johnson and Katie Bender were more than active on defense as they kept the ball in play to frustrate the Pilots' hopes of a far-fetched comeback.
- Set 3: MBU 25-21 PUC
- Once again, the Sabercats did not allow Providence to have the lead outside of the first five points of the match, as the 2015 NCCAA national champions closed out the match in unrelenting fashion despite a spirited Providence team.
- The story remained the same for the Sabercats: active, well-positioned defense and a balanced offense made for a total package that Providence had difficulty handling.
- Although the Pilots came within two points of the Sabercats at 12-10, the team from Canada never gained firm control of the match. Alison Renz posted four straight points in reply to the small Pilot charge, and the Sabercats began to put one hand on the proverbial banner with an 18-12 lead.
- The Pilots would not go down without a fight, however, as they posted a few kills late in the match to come close. The Pilots' resolve was ultimately negated, however, as the Sabercats stuck to their strengths to close out their second consecutive NCCAA title run - again without dropping a set.
- The match was the third consecutive title match between Maranatha and Providence (2015 Nationals, 2016 Regionals and Nationals).
- Seniors Julia Gunst, Alison Renz, and Rachel Wells ended their four-year careers with the championship win.
- The Sabercats have now completed a two-year, 27-match unbeaten run in NCCAA play.
- the Sabercats finish the 2016 season with a 26-5 record