Untamable Sabercats Overpower Pilots in Regional Championship

Photo credit: Kaitlyn Dobson
Photo credit: Kaitlyn Dobson

THE OVERVIEW

  • Result: Maranatha 3-0 Providence (25-14, 25-14, 25-15) 
  • Venue: Maranatha Baptist University
  • Attendance: 311
  • Record: Sabercats are now 19-14, and 3-0 in the postseason
  • Next Match for MBU: NCCAA Nationals @ Bob Jones University - Nov. 16-18

THE LEAD

WATERTOWN, Wis. -- The #1-seeded Providence University College Pilots were no match for the Sabercats, who conquered PUC once again with a title-match sweep.

With the win, the Sabercats qualify for NCCAA Nationals for the eight consecutive year, and will await their seeding, which will be released by the NCCAA early next week.

For the Sabercats, this was the fourth straight title match against the Pilots in the last 3 seasons. The Sabercats stand at 4-0 in the title-match series history.

THE STORY

The Sabercats knew that they were facing their primary threat, as the Pilots came into the tournament with a strong record and a point to prove.

But the Sabercats were unfazed on their home floor. To start the match, Jessica Ureke set the tone with 2 consecutive aces, and the diverse Sabercat attack kept the Pilots guessing. A 9-2 run in the middle stages brought the Sabercats to the brink of the set win, and a couple of late kills from Claire Hansel helped seal a commanding 25-14 victory.

The second set was a story of momentum swings.

Providence registered multiple errors early on to give MBU an 11-2 lead, but the Pilots responded with a 7-1 run to make the score 12-9. Four different Sabercats then contributed kills that allowed MBU to pull away. In the closing stretches, the senior leadership stepped in for the Sabercats, as 3 Katie Bender aces and 3 kills from Alexis Bueltel capped off the second set. The set yielded an identical score to the first: 25-14.

Just like that, MBU was on the cusp of yet another perfect sweep of an NCCAA postseason tournament.

That sweep came soon enough, as the Sabercats once again built an early lead that would hold until the end of the match. Madeline Suderman and Bueltel both logged 3 kills in the middle of the set to keep the Pilots in their place, and 2 late kills from Kelsey Johnson sealed the match.

The final stages of the match represented the entire tournament: the Sabercats had the momentum of their home crowd, the momentum on the scoreboard, and a polished effort from start to finish.

THE NUMBERS

The Pilots registered 34 errors while the Sabercats logged just 14. 

Bueltel notched 12 kills and 4 blocks to lead the Sabercats. Suderman tallied 8 kills and 2 blocks.

Bender led the MBU defense with 14 digs. 

The Sabercats combined for 6 aces.

With the win, the Sabercats have won 7 regional titles in the last 8 years.

THE CALENDAR

The Sabercats will make the return trip to the NCCAA National Tournament, which will be held in 2 weeks at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Match times and seedings are still to be determined. Catch the details at mbusabercats.com/composite.