DUBUQUE, Iowa -- The Sabercats took two wins out of a couple of riveting matches today, as they dropped a competitive four-set clash with Judson (NAIA, NCCAA DI), before beating Emmaus Bible College, who is currently ranked #1 in the NCCAA DII.
Claire Hansel put down 23 kills in the Judson match before adding another 15 against Emmaus.
- Maranatha 1-3 Judson (25-27, 27-29, 25-19, 16-25)
- Maranatha 3-2 Emmaus (22-25, 22-25, 25-19, 25-15, 15-9)
- Venue: Pollard Field House
- Location: Dubuque, Iowa
- Record: MBU (15-10)
Judson: The match with Judson was a barn-burner right from the opening set, as the Sabercats forced extra points in each of the opening two frames. Maranatha blew out to a 19-9 lead in the opener and seemed to be headed for a stroll in the park, but a couple of big blocks helped the Eagles turn things around just when they needed to. Even after MBU had set point at 24-23, the Eagles posted some late kills to take an unlikely win in the opening set.
The second set was tight from start to finish, and it had a dramatic ending. Maranatha cleaned up their attack in the set and survived four set points, but the Eagles finally neutralized the Sabercats' resistance with two late kills to seal an 18-kill set - their best offensive showing of the afternoon.
MBU out-did Judson in the third, as they posted 20 kills as a unit - their best offensive showing in a set this season. Hansel single-handedly slammed down 10, and after the Sabercats took the third set, 25-19, the Eagles entered the team huddle reeling from the offensive explosion.
But the Sabercats' momentum was cut off in the fourth and final set. Judson quickly regrouped and got out to an early lead - one that they never gave back. When it was all said and done, a prolonged four-set match ended in a 3-1 win for Judson, who had three players with 10 kills or more.
Emmaus: The Sabercats learned the hard way, but learn they did. After conceding the first-set comeback to Judson, MBU rebounded with a comeback of their own. And what a comeback.
After going down 0-2 in the match after the opening two sets, the Sabercats came back to win three straight against the top team in the nation. The comeback started with a 17-kill third set, which was the best display that the Sabercats showed on the attack. Eight of the Sabercats' first 10 points came from kills, as four different players found the holes in the Emmaus defense. After Emmaus went up 14-11, MBU responded with a half-dozen unanswered points, and they never looked back from that run, winning the third set, 25-19.
Maranatha was the cleanest in the fourth set, and after the Eagles stayed in the match at 18-13, MBU got their second wind and jumped out to a 25-15 victory. The comeback was on, and a fifth set was on the docket.
Once the fifth set got going, it was clear that Maranatha was determined to ride the momentum until they finished the job. In fact, the Eagles couldn't even get past Karley Johnson and Allyson Brimer, as the duo shared a block three times in the opening exchanges, giving Maranatha a 10-4 lead. From there, a couple of late aces from Kelsey Johnson finished the job, as the Sabercats had posted what is probably their most dramatic win of the season, and it was against the team with the target on their backs.
- Hansel: 38 kills, 40 digs on the day
- Kelsey: 1 kill shy of a triple-double in both matches
- Karley: triple-double in the Emmaus match (11 kills, 24 assists, 15 blocks)
- McKenzie Janke: 48 digs on the day
- Jessica Ureke: 20 kills, 48 digs on the day
- Series: The MBU-JU series now stands at 2-8 in Judson's favor
- Series: MBU now holds a 5-1 advantage in the Emmaus series
The Sabercats will have their final regular-season tune-up at the Wisconsin Lutheran College Warrior Invitational next weekend. Follow at mbusabercats.com/composite.