MILWAUKEE -- The Sabercats' nine-match winning streak was snapped tonight at Wisconsin Lutheran College, as MBU fell in a five-set thriller.
Karley Johnson provided a bright spot, as she moves to fifth all-time in the program record books for career assists. Johnson recorded 24 on the night and now has 1,724 to her collegiate resume.
- Result: Maranatha 2-3 Wisconsin Lutheran (24-26, 13-25, 25-23, 25-21, 9-15)
- Venue: WLC Recreation Complex, Wisconsin Lutheran College
- Location: Milwaukee
- Attendance: 384
- Record: MBU (9-3), WLC (8-8)
The first set was just a microcosm of the high-intensity match, as the two teams stayed neck and neck throughout. The sting for the Sabercats came late in the set, as MBU had set point at 24-23 before allowing WLC to post a 3-0 run to take the 1-0 advantage in the match. Claire Hansel and Karley Johnson led the way offensively for MBU, who were forced to quickly regroup after the disappointing end.
As it turned out, the late loss left the Sabercats reeling. Wisconsin Lutheran capitalized on their hard-earned momentum from the clutch first-set win and flew out to a 9-1 lead in the second frame. From there, WLC took the path of least resistance to the end of the set, running away with a 25-13 win. That 13-25 loss came with a negative attack percentage for Maranatha, who were handed their most lopsided loss in a single set this season. With WLC ahead 2-0, it looked like an easy win for the hosts.
But just when the chips were down, the Sabercats found new life.
MBU stayed tight with WLC throughout a third-set battle and didn't lead until the dying moments of the set. After grinding out the set with scrappy defending (led by a career-high 23 digs from Jessica Ureke), the first MBU lead didn't come until a 23-22 advantage. From there, an Erica Ureke ace and a set-deciding kill from Gabrielle Carpenter gave the Blue and Gold a lifeline. WLC still had the advantage, but the match had a different feel.
Newfound confidence gave the Sabercats a near wire-to-wire win in the fourth set. Carpenter put up two early kills and it was a matter of holding off the Warriors' charges from there. WLC twice held a one-point lead in the middle stages of the set, but Carpenter swung the Sabercats back in front when it mattered most. Late kills from Hansel and Kelsey Johnson decided the fourth frame, which turned out to be another testament of the Sabercats' resilience. For the first time all night, that 10th straight win seemed possible.
But as it turned out, the win was only a possibility. The near-400-person crowd propelled the Warriors on to defending their home court, as WLC held the Sabercats off in the final set. Wisconsin Lutheran swung at a precise clip of .350 for the fifth set and set up a big block at key times to close out the 3-2 win.
MBU Starters: 4- Hansel, 7- Janke, 9- Johnson, 10- Johnson, 12- Brimer, 17- Carpenter, 22- Ureke
- Claire Hansel: 15 K, 11 D
- McKenzie Janke: season-high 33 digs
- Kelsey Johnson: 18 A, 11 D
- Karley: is now just 1 kill shy of 500
- Ureke: career-high 23 digs
- Gabrielle Carpenter: 11 K
- Last year: WLC won 3-1 and 3-2
- Series: Maranatha leads the all-time series 38-23
- The Warriors compete in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference
- WLC is 2-0 in NACC play
- Wisconsin Lutheran has played NCAA DIII exclusively this season, including No. 21 Hope
The Sabercats will travel to Edgewood College for a triangular with Edgewood and Illinois Tech on Saturday. Follow at mbusabercats.com/schedule.