Sabercats Knock Off Bruins to Advance to National Championship

Photo credit: Kaitlyn Dobson
Photo credit: Kaitlyn Dobson

THE OVERVIEW

  • Result: #3 Maranatha 3-0 #4 Bob Jones (25-18, 25-19, 25-17)
  • Venue: Davis Field House, Bob Jones University
  • Attendance: 361
  • Record: Sabercats are now 23-14, and 7-0 in the postseason
  • Next Match for MBU: Saturday, Nov. 17 vs Kentucky Christian - NCCAA National Championship (3:30 p.m. Central)

THE LEAD

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- With a gutsy semifinal sweep of Bob Jones University, the Sabercats have given themselves a shot at a third straight national title.

Alexis Bueltel and Kelsey Johnson fueled the win with two standout showings. With the win, MBU will square off against #1 Kentucky Christian University tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. Central to decide the 2017 champion of the NCCAA Division II.

THE STORY

Bueltel was simply unstoppable out of the gate. The senior posted 8 kills in the first set alone to lead the Sabercats to an intense and commanding 25-18 win.

Johnson was basically flawless throughout the match. The sophomore registered a career-best 28 assists and added 8 kills, an errorless .571 attack percentage, 18 digs, and a perfect serve receive.

MBU earned their keep in the opener, as they posted 20 kills to take the set by 7 points. 

The second set was tightly-contested, and neither team dominated the early goings. Under pressure from the Bruins' attack, the Sabercats called less of the shots on offense.

After the MBU offensive storm temporarily abated, mid-set kills from Madeline Suderman gave Maranatha some much-needed momentum. The Sabercats pulled away to an 18-12 lead and finished the Bruins off in the second set with a 25-19 win. Suderman's 5 kills led the way in the second act, as the senior showed her experience and determination to place the Sabercats one set away.

But the hosts were determined. In the third set, Bob Jones' hard-hitting attack gave them an early lead which they held until the middle of the set, but a resilient MBU defense - led by Katie Bender - minimized the damage from that point on.

With Bender behind them, Bueltel, Suderman, and Claire Hansel took control. The threesome combined for 12 kills in the final set to give MBU a hard-earned win. 

THE NUMBERS

Bueltel supplemented her 15 kills with 12 digs and 2 blocks.

Hansel and Suderman finished the night with a dozen kills each.

Bender recorded 23 digs.

Maranatha finished with 58 kills, which is their highest of any 3-set match this season. The mark is also tied for third-best for a 3-set match in program history.

This was the second meeting between the two teams. MBU leads the series 2-0.

THE CALENDAR

With the win, the Sabercats have punched their ticket to the Division II National Championship. MBU will face Kentucky Christian University tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. Central in the title match. 

Watch the championship match live by clicking here.