Sabercats Conquer Spikefest with Four Clean Sweeps

Sabercats Conquer Spikefest with Four Clean Sweeps

THE LEAD

ANKENY, Iowa -- At the Faith Spikefest, it was a sight we've grown to know and love: the Sabercats Women's Volleyball team knocking off NCCAA competition.

MBU topped Oak Hills, Ozark, Randall, and Cottey (NAIA) to claim yet another Spikefest trophy, and they never dropped a set. Kelsey Johnson was named the tournament MVP and Karley Johnson passed the 1,000 career assist mark. 

Not a bad start to the season for the three-peat national champs.

THE OVERVIEW

  • Results:
    • MBU 3-0 Oak Hills Christian (25-14, 25-18, 25-23)
    • MBU 3-0 Ozark Christian (25-22, 25-13, 25-10)
    • MBU 3-0 Randall (25-11, 25-22, 25-18)
    • MBU 3-0 Cottey (25-22, 25-20, 25-10)
  • Venue: Convocation Center, Faith Baptist Bible College
  • Location: Ankeny, Iowa
  • Record: MBU (4-0)

THE STORY

Oak Hills Christian: The Sabercats' first test of the season came against NCCAA North Region opponents, Oak Hills Christian College. The Wolfpack showed some improved hitting from last year, as they registered 24 kills as a team in the match. But it wasn't enough to faze Maranatha, as the Sabercats answered with a variety of players combining for 38 kills. Claire Hansel led the way for MBU with 10 kills. The Johnson Sisters combined for 30 assists (16 for Karley), and McKenzie Janke kept the ball alive with 13 digs in the match.

The first match turned out to be a matter of executing the routine even though Oak Hills came within two points in the final set.

Ozark Christian: The Sabercats had their work cut out for them against Ozark, as MBU needed to come from behind in the opening set to take a 25-22 win. But after that, MBU got better and better.

After a 14-kill showing in the first set, the Sabercats' offense was its sharpest in the second, as they logged a .579 attack percentage for a resounding 25-13 win. The Sabercats beat the Ambassadors into submission in the third and final set, winning 25-10 to take the second match of the day and finish the opening day of the season with two tidy wins.

--

Randall: Then came the Saints, who posed the biggest threat to the Sabercats on paper. This would be the biggest test yet for a young Sabercats team, as Randall was seeded in front of the Sabercats at last year's NCCAA DII National Tournament.

So much for higher seeds. It was imposing on paper, but it was no problem in reality.

Maranatha came out swinging and forced multiple errors from Randall, and the Blue and Gold grabbed a 25-11 win in the opening set. Randall responded well and made the Sabercats' defense work their hardest yet, as MBU had four players pick up double-digit digs in the match. Jessica Ureke was the most active, as she logged 18. Janke was right there with 16 digs herself.

Hansel smacked 12 kills down on Randall, and Kelsey Johnson was just a kill away from a triple-double performance, as the junior registered nine kills, 10 assists, and 12 digs in a busy match.

A convincing, hard-earned 3-0 win over the Saints was a huge lift for this young team, and they had momentum going into the Spikefest championship.

Cottey: Just looking at the Comets (NAIA), you could tell why they are a scholarship program, as they lined up tall at the net. Scholarship athletes against the defending champs had all the makings of a classic championship match.

Cottey looked like they were going to win the opener, but a scrappy comeback from the Sabercats set the Comets off course. After a determined rally late in the set, MBU sealed a 25-22 win.

From then on, it was all about MBU, as the defending Spikefest champs successfully defended. Over the final two sets, MBU limited Cottey to 30 points to seal the deal. Allyson Brimer finished off the second set and Kelsey Johnson solidified her MVP status with the kill that won the weekend.

THE STATS

  • Karley passed the 1,000 assists mark in the Cottey match. Her 1,000th assist set up Kelsey for the kill.
  • Kelsey earned her Tournament MVP status with 37 kills, 44 assists, 24 digs, and four blocks.
  • Janke logged a career-high 16 digs in both matches on the final day. She had 56 digs on the weekend.
  • Hansel (an all-tournament team selection) earned 36 kills on the weekend.
  • MBU averaged 37 kills per match.
  • 41-1 is now the running NCCAA DII record for this group of players.  
  • Series (Oak Hills): this was the first match in the all-time series
  • Series (Ozark): MBU leads, 6-3
  • Series (Randall): MBU leads, 5-0
  • Series (Cottey): MBU leads, 2-0

THE OUTLOOK

Maranatha will go to the MSOE Invitational next weekend. Play is set to start Friday, Sep. 7 in Milwaukee, as the Sabercats will face Benedictine (Ill.) and Wisconsin-River Falls. Catch the details at mbusabercats.com/composite.

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