GREENVILLE, S.C. -- The Sabercats' match against Geneva College was a nail-biter from start to finish, and the Sabercats took their second 3-2 comeback win to top Pool B at the 2018 NCCAA National Tournament.
With this result, the Sabercats will play in the 7:30 (EST) semifinal later tonight against either #1 Bob Jones University or #4 Emmaus Bible College.
- Result: #2 Maranatha 3-2 #3 Geneva (25-19, 25-17, 13-25, 25-19, 15-13)
- Venue: Davis Field House, Bob Jones University
- Location: Greenville, S.C.
- Record: MBU is now 23-12
The Golden Tornadoes were the unknown factor coming into the tournament, as they had not played a single NCCAA competition this season - including their own regional tournament - coming into the weekend. Geneva made an opening statement with four kills for their first four points, and the lead changed hands a few times before Geneva tied the match at 10. GC showed their power at the net, and Sydney McNulty was relentless, posting six kills for the Golden Tornadoes in the first set alone. But the Sabercats stayed in it, deploying a balanced attack that gave Kelsey Johnson a kill to give MBU a 4-0 run and a 19-18 lead. Johnson stayed relentless from that point on, posting three late kills to give MBU a hard-earned 25-19 win in a tight first set.
Geneva came out swinging in the second set, forcing the Sabercats to submit to a 13-7 lead. The Golden Tornadoes were calling the shots early on, as they frustrated the Sabercats' attack - MBU couldn't find a rhythm under the pressure from their opponents. Ahead 22-15, Geneva finally put the set to rest with a couple of late kills to win 25-17 and tie the match at one set apiece.
An inexorable 15-0 run for Geneva demolished an early MBU lead in the third frame, and the Golden Tornadoes closed out a decisive third set to hand Maranatha their worst loss in a set since before the fourpeat run began. MBU put up a couple of late kills but could not answer Geneva, falling 13-25. Advantage: Geneva.
But just when Geneva seemed to be running away with it, the Sabercats turned things around. Three early kills helped the Sabercats get their feet back underneath them in the fourth set, as they simply reversed the momentum to go up 10-6 and force Wendy Smith to call a timeout for Geneva. The Sabercats mixed up their attack and capitalized on their hard-earned energy, rolling out to a 19-8 lead and leaving Geneva at a loss for answers. Gabrielle Carpenter and Karley Johnson were at the center of everything, as they combined for eight kills through the middle stages of the set. Geneva continued to fight late in the set, but the Sabercats ultimately closed out a tiring win and a convincing turnaround of the match. Set five was next.
Carpenter continued her noteworthy performance into the fifth set, but Geneva was the first team to eight points, taking an 8-7 lead as the teams switched sides. But the relentless Sabercats came back with a 6-1 win to put themselves up by the same fifth-set margin they faced against Toccoa Falls last night. But unlike TFC, MBU finished the job. Two late kills from Claire Hansel and a match-ending kill from Jessica Ureke wrapped up a nerve-wracking 3-2 win - MBU's second comeback win in as many matches.
- Hansel: 14 kills - now has double-digit kills in every match this tournament
- Carpenter: 11 kills (her highest mark since September)
- Karley and Kelsey: both had triple-doubles
- Ureke: career-high 21 digs
- McNulty: 22 kills for Geneva
- Score: 21 ties in the match; 9 lead changes
- Kills: MBU 54-57 GC
- MBU: 106 digs in the match - their second-highest mark this season
- MBU: four players with double-digit kills
- Series: This was the first match in the series
With this result, the Sabercats will play in tonight's semifinal at 7:30 against the loser of #1 Bob Jones University (South Region Champion) and #4 Emmaus Bible College (North Region At-Large selection). Follow at mbusabercats.com/composite.