Moving On: Sabercats Top Pool B, Advance to National Semifinals

Photo credit: Kaitlyn Dobson
Photo credit: Kaitlyn Dobson

THE OVERVIEW

  • Results: #3 Maranatha 3-1 #2 Randall (25-18, 25-20, 25-27, 25-20)
  • Venue: Davis Field House, Bob Jones University
  • Attendance: 122
  • Record: Sabercats are now 22-14, and 6-0 in the postseason
  • Next Match for MBU: Friday, Nov. 17 vs Bob Jones - NCCAA National Semifinal (7:30 p.m.)

THE LEAD

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- The defending NCCAA DII national champs began their bid for a third straight title with 2 impressive matches today. The Sabercats topped Toccoa Falls College, 3-1, before sweeping Johnson University Tennessee on the opening day of the 2017 National Tournament.

With the win, the Sabercats have sealed the top spot in Pool B. MBU will face Bob Jones University tonight at 6:30 p.m. Central in the national semifinal. 

THE STORY

Katie Bender kept the ball in play for the rest of the Sabercats early on. Bender's defensive passing made life a little easier for a well-balanced MBU attack right out of the gate. Behind kills from Alexis BueltelClaire Hansel, and Kelsey Johnson, the Sabercats powered their way to a 25-18 win in the opening set.

Set 2 saw some determined defense from the Saints, who concocted some scrappy digging to minimize the damage from a hard-hitting Madeline Suderman, who led the charge for Maranatha at the net.

The Sabercats persisted despite Randall's defensive efforts, as MBU once again showed its fighting postseason mentality. 

MBU seemed to be cruising out to an easy sweep in the third set, but Randall wouldn't go down without a fight. After going down 9-3 to the Sabercats' early charge, Randall fought back with a 7-0 run to take a 1-point lead.

From there, the hard-nosed Saints kept the pressure on and held the lead throughout the middle of the set. Some Karley Johnson kills kept the Sabercats in it, though, and when Bueltel added to her sister's contributions, the Sabercats had pulled back to 17-18, forcing Randall into a timeout.

From there, the set was a brawl. Neither team would yield, and the set went into a tie. But after the Sabercats had match point, Randall fought back once more, taking a 25-27 set win and some of the momentum back.

That Randall win seemed to light a fire under the Sabercats, who charged back to an early lead in the fourth set. Behind the momentum of an opening 10-3 run, MBU went on to seal their place as the top team in Pool B with a 25-20 win.

THE NUMBERS

MILESTONE: with her performance in this match, Bueltel surpassed 1,000 career kills. She becomes just the 8th player in Maranatha program history to do so. 

Karley Johnson had a triple-double: 13 kills, 25 assists and 11 digs.

Bender amassed 31 digs - that was the 6th time this season Bender has finished with 30-plus digs.

Bueltel finished the morning with 16 kills, 11 digs and 4 blocks.

THE CALENDAR

With the win, the Sabercats have sealed the top spot in Pool B. MBU will face Bob Jones University tonight at 6:30 p.m. Central in the national semifinal. 

Watch the semifinal live by clicking here.