2016 Volleyball Season Review
The 2016 season was an encore performance for the Sabercats.
2015 was a memorable season, as they won their first NCCAA Division II National Championship for the first time in over twenty years and did not drop a set in doing so. While the Sabercats held the top seed for the entire year in the NCCAA DII, a repeat of the 2015 title run still seemed unlikely. Proving that assumption wrong, the Sabercats put on a near-flawless display at the national tournament, as they did not drop a set through five matches of competitive action. Eventually, the Sabercats topped the Providence University College Pilots in the championship match, marking the third time in the last two seasons that the Sabercats topped their Canadian opponents in the championship match of an NCCAA competition.
With the run at Nationals, the Sabercats have now remained unbeaten in NCCAA play for the last two seasons - a run that includes 27 matches in total.
Aside from winning all six matches in straight sets on their home floor, the Sabercats posted a 26-5 record on the season, which included twelve NCCAA triumphs and twelve more against NCAA DIII competition.
- Overall Record: 26-5
- Record at Home: 5-0
- NCCAA Record: 12-0
- NCCAA All-Regional Selections:
- Katie Bender, Julia Gunst (2nd team), Alexis Johnson, Alison Renz (Regional Player of the Year)
- NCCAA All-America Selections:
- Alexis Johnson (1st team), Alison Renz (1st team, National Player of the Year)
- AD3I All-Independent:
- Katie Bender (1st team), Julia Gunst (2nd team), Alexis Johnson (1st team), Kelsey Johnson (3rd team), Alison Renz (1st team, AD3I Player of the Year), Madeline Thompson (3rd team)
- NCCAA Scholar-Athletes:
- Abigail Jones, Alison Renz, Madeline Thompson, Rachell Wells
- Win at Marian on October 1st - 500th win in program history*
A word from Coach DeLozier:
Speaking of how the team improved throughout the season, DeLozier stated, "We started our season needing to replace two outside hitters and our entire defensive back line. We worked tirelessly during preseason, and we spent the next month working on serve receive and defense. We also worked in the weight room to improve our strength and endurance.
"This team had goals for the season and worked together to accomplish the goals. A strength of our team is in the depth of our players that make our offense successful. Our opponents can't just focus on the player of the year; they must defend all six of our attackers. Also, this team is not just about court play. They have had great devotionals on faith in God and godly character to grow spiritually. They have been prayer warriors for two young children needing transplants, an opponent's family who had a fatal car accident, our local pastoral families with health concerns, and many other individual prayer requests.
"We knew going into nationals that there were going to be good teams we would face. The coaching staff scouted all the teams and came up with a game plan for each match. The players were able to take the individual game plans and execute the details. It was so much fun to watch them at nationals being able to offensively run our plays and defensively expose the other teams weaknesses.
"Next year, we will have to fill the roles of the seniors. We have many underclassmen ready to fill these roles having put in hard work this last season to accomplish that. We also have many juniors ready to step up into leadership positions."
- Alison Renz finished her career in noteworthy fashion, as the senior was once again named a dual player of the year, garnering the superlative honor in both the AD3I and the NCCAA DII. As a by-product of the two awards, Renz was named to the first team AD3I All-Independents, and to the first team of NCCAA All-Americans. On the year, Renz totalled 494 kills and 132 blocks - both of which were career-highs for the Senior.
- Alexis Johnson showed versatility that was essential for the Sabercats. Johnson was named to the AD3I All-Independent first team and to the NCCAA DII All-America first team.
- Katie Bender was a new face to the team this year, and junior announced her arrival in emphatic fashion, as she was named the NCCAA North Region Libero of the Year and an AD3I first-team selection for the season. Bender was named to the All-Tournament Team at NCCAA Nationals, as her characteristically scrappy defensive coverage and passing helped the Sabercats win every set.
- Julia Gunst finished her career in style, as she surpassed the 1,500 career kills mark on October 18th, and was the go-to setter in the Sabercats' 6-2 offense. Gunst recorded a season-high 35 assists in the Sabercats' regional triumph over the Pilots
For more on the Sabercats Volleyball Team including statistics, all-time records, and awards, visit their team page here.
*Only known records were recognized when compiling all-time records. If you find an error or an omission in our records, contact the Athletic Department at (920) 206-2379.