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Photo credit: Bridger Buchi
Photo credit: Bridger Buchi

Sabercats' NCCAA Streak Snapped in Third-Place Finish

Ankeny, Iowa -- The year began as usual for the Sabercats, who swept through their opening two matches at the Faith Spikefest Tournament, but a powerful Kentucky Christian squad bested the reigning NCCAA DII National Champs 3-0 this morning. The Sabercats went on to handle Faith Baptist 3-0 en route to a third-place finish at the Spikefest Tournament hosted by Faith Baptist Bible College.

Maranatha vs Manhattan

Result: MBU 3-0 MCC (25-15, 25-15, 25-12)

The Sabercats breezed through their opening match against the Thunder of Manhattan Christian College, who were limited to 15 points or less throughout the contest. The Sabercats were in the driver's seat from start to finish in each set, and Alexis Bueltel and Madeline Suderman marked the beginning of their senior season with authority, as Bueltel notched 14 kills while Suderman pitched in 8. Claire Hansel made her Sabercats debut by registering 4 kills and an ace.

Karley Johnson dished out 29 assists in the match as the Sabercats cruised to the opening win.

Maranatha vs Barclay

Result: MBU 3-0 BC (25-9, 25-20, 25-7)

In the second match of the day, the Sabercats outgunned the Bears of Barclay College, as MBU limited BC to 36 points in the three-set jaunt. MBU was precise at the net, logging just 6 hitting errors as opposed to the 14 they registered against Manhattan. Meanwhile, the Bears totaled 18 miscues at the net.

In this match it was Hansel who led a well-balanced attack for MBU. The rookie finished 9 kills and 2 aces in the match. Bueltel's contribution was noteworthy on both sides of the ball, as the All-American senior registered 8 kills and 9 digs.

Going into the second day, the Sabercats and their upcoming opponents KCU had both won their opening 2 matches, so the next morning's clash was essentially the key semifinal of the tournament.

Maranatha vs Kentucky Christian

Result: MBU 0-3 KCU (22-25, 20-25, 21-25)

Unfortunately for Maranatha, their 29-match unbeaten streak - along with their hopes of winning the Spikefest title - came to an end at the hands of the hard-hitting Lady Knights. The result came with a struggle, though, as the Sabercats tallied at least 20 points in all three sets against the team they conquered at the NCCAA National stage each of the last two years.

Suderman came out swinging and tried to bolster the offensive momentum for MBU. Suderman's 10 kills and Bueltel's 7 were the top marks for MBU in that regard.

The Sabercats put up a fight in each of the three sets and kept the Lady Knights on their toes, but KCU's hitting and determination kept them in front. Katie Bender put in a noteworthy effort to keep the floor clean, but the senior's 19 digs were overshadowed by the Lady Knights' prowess at the net. KCU posted 38 kills (led by 15 from Kiahna Holman) and 8.5 blocks while the Sabercats posted 26 and 2, respectively, over the three sets combined.

Maranatha vs Faith Baptist

Result: MBU 3-0 FBBC (25-12, 25-10, 25-14)

In the third-place match, the Sabercats took their frustrations out on the hosting Eagles, limiting them to 36 points in the three sets combined. The Sabercats were sharp at the net (20 kills and just 6 errors), but the Eagles' miscues were a part of the story. The hosts were charged with 19 errors at the net and 16 receive errors* to help the Sabercats on to the three-set win.

Bueltel's 6-kill showing was supplemented by 5 kills from Hansel and 4 from Gabrielle Carpenter.

While the disappointment of a long NCCAA unbeaten streak lingers, the Sabercats stand at 3-1 through their opening weekend of competition.

The Sabercats will now look to NCAA competition and the Concordia-Chicago Quad on Tuesday, September 5. The first match of the quad will be against North Central (Ill.) at 5 p.m.

Game information will be made available at

*unofficial statistics