ANKENY, Iowa -- When it was time to shine, the Sabercats shone brightest. With the regional championship on the line, Maranatha swept Emmaus Bible College to retain the North Region title.
It's the headline we all know and love, as the Sabercats have won back-to-back NCCAA Regional Championships all without dropping a set. With the win, the Sabercats advance to the NCCAA DII National Tournament, where they will compete for their fourth consecutive national title.
- Result:#2 Maranatha 3-0 #1 Emmaus (25-21, 25-17, 25-18)
- Venue: Convocation Center, Faith Baptist Bible College
- Location: Ankeny, Iowa
- Record: MBU is now 20-12
Earlier this season, the Eagles beat the Sabercats in Watertown to take over the top spot in the NCCAA DII rankings. But after today, that loss is but a distant memory in the Sabercats' minds. Maranatha announced their intentions right from the get-go, as they put down 17 kills on an Emmaus defense that looked at a loss for answers. Early kills from Kelsey Johnson and some mid-set work from Claire Hansel gave the Sabercats a 17-13 lead, but after an 8-2 run from Emmaus, the Sabercats' lead was in jeopardy. Cue the attack, as Hansel and the Sabercats put down five kills and six unanswered points to end the first set with an exclamation point.
Maranatha was strong at the net in the second set, jumping out to a 12-3 lead with five kills and two blocks. From there, they closed out the set with relative ease. Emmaus made the Sabercats earn their keep, but would only come within six points down the closing stretches. After two sets, it looked as if the three-time defending national champions were making early headway for that fourth title.
Sure enough, the win came in the next set, but it wasn't without a scare from Emmaus. The Eagles put together a 6-0 run after the third set was established, taking a 12-10 lead. But that Eagle run put a charge into the Sabercats, who responded in the manner of champions. A 6-1 MBU run to regain the lead was followed by a closing streak of five unanswered points, as the Sabercats removed all doubt of their dominance in the NCCAA postseason. After three sets in Ankeny, the Sabercats had swept three straight opponents, defeated the #1 seed, and captured their fifth consecutive region crown.
- Hansel: 10 kills, 11 digs
- Kelsey: 9 kills, 19 assists
- McKenzie Janke: led MBU with 20 digs on the day
- Kills: MBU 40-26 EBC
- Series: The Sabercats hold a 6-1 record against the Eagles
The Sabercats will now await their seeding for the NCCAA DII National Tournament, which will be announced early next week at mbusabercats.com.