GREENVILLE, S.C. -- In a rematch of the 2018 NCCAA North Region Championship, the Sabercats outlasted the Emmaus Bible College Eagles in a gritty national semifinal.
With the win, the Sabercats will advance to the national championship match to face the #1-seeded Bob Jones University Bruins tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.
- Result: #2 Maranatha 3-1 #4 Emmaus (23-25, 25-18, 28-26, 27-25)
- Venue: Davis Field House, Bob Jones University
- Location: Greenville, S.C.
- Record: MBU is now 24-12
The Sabercats had their hands full with NCCAA DII Player of the Year, Hannah Postma, and the rest of the Emmaus squad, who grabbed an early lead and stayed ahead for the majority of the first set. After a mid-set timeout, the Sabercats found some momentum and came back to make it 20-21 off a big kill from Karley Johnson. After Emmaus went to match point at 24-20, MBU posted three straight points to come back, but a final kill from Postma finished the job for the Eagles in the opening set.
Johnson continued to lead the MBU attack in the second set, as the Sabercats edged in front of Emmaus in the early goings and stayed in front. MBU landed a 22-15 lead - their largest of the match to that point - then closed things out after three Emmaus attacks were too strong to stay in bounds. Tie match.
After struggling with their attack through the first two sets, the Sabercats tightened things up at the third, posting early kills from a variety of contributors to jump out to an 11-5 lead, forcing Neil Pitman to call a timeout. Emmaus maintained their intensity and fight, as they worked back to tie the match at 18. The set's finish had all the drama of a national semifinal, as both teams had passion and both teams traded the lead. Two big kills from Claire Hansel knocked most of the life out of Emmaus, and the decisive blow came from Kelsey Johnson, who tipped it into the heart of the Emmaus defense to end a thrilling exchange in set three.
The Sabercats went up 9-3 in the fourth set and looked like they were cruising to their third win over Emmaus this season, but the Eagles wouldn't give up that easily. Emmaus virtually repeated the storyline of the third set, as they crept closer and closer to MBU before eventually taking a 24-23 lead.
But just like they have all tournament long, the Sabercats stayed with it.
Late kills from Gabrielle Carpenter and Hansel gave Maranatha their third set of the match. After a thrilling set, a thrilling match, and a thrilling day, the Sabercats are headed for their fourth consecutive national championship match.
- Hansel: posted 13 kills - now has double-digit kills in every match at nationals
- Kelsey: Her 27 digs was a career high
- Carpenter: second consecutive match in double-digit kills
- MBU: 122 digs - their highest mark this season
- Kills: MBU 50-46 EBC
- Series: MBU leads the series, 6-1
With this result, the Sabercats will play in tomorrow's championship match against #1 Bob Jones University. The match is set to start at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. Follow at mbusabercats.com/composite.