MILWAUKEE -- It could be the WLC Gym, or it could be the Sabercats were just plain out of gas tonight. Immediately following a gritty five-set win over Wisconsin-Superior, the Sabercats were swept for the first time all season.
A 3-0 loss to Concordia-Chicago put an end to a nine-game winning streak, which is the second streak of the same number to end inside the WLC Recreation Complex this season.
- Maranatha 3-2 Wis.-Superior (25-23, 19-25, 24-26, 25-19, 15-13)
- Maranatha 0-3 Concordia-Chicago (23-25, 18-25, 21-25)
- Venue: WLC Recreation Complex, Wisconsin Lutheran College
- Location: Milwaukee
- Attendance: 53, 57
- Records: MBU (18-4), CUC (13-17), UWS (13-17)
Wis.-Superior (Upper Midwest Athletic Conference): The first set was an early indicator that the match would be anything but one-sided. The two teams traded swings, and while the Sabercats were out-sized, they weren't going to be out-gunned. Ahead 20-15, the Sabercats relied on late kills from Jessica Ureke and Claire Hansel, and a big block from Gabrielle Carpenter and Karley Johnson. The Sabercats were 25-23 winners and they weren't slowing down.
But the second set was one that the Sabercats quickly put behind them, as they posted 10 kills but could not find a way around the Yellow Jacket block. To make matters worse, the Sabercats saw a 17-12 lead evaporate at the hands of UWS, who put together a 12-2 run to take the wind out of the Sabercats' sails.
For the second time in the match, the third set went into a tie, as a late four-point run from MBU turned a two-point deficit into a two-point lead. But the momentum stopped there, as a late kill from UWS and a set-ending ace gave the Yellow Jackets refueled momentum and the 2-1 lead in the match.
But just as they've shown time and time again this season, the Sabercats showed some dangerous resilience. After falling behind early in the fourth set, the Sabercats turned things around in the do-or-die situation. Late kills from Ureke, Hansel, and Allyson Brimer came after a late 9-3 run, which bolstered the Sabercats' efforts and helped them win by six points.
In a nail-biting fifth frame, the Sabercats were worth their salt. Behind a varied and on-point offense, McKenzie Janke led the defense to frustrate Superior, picking up a season-high 37 digs in the match. Hansel and Ureke led the way offensively, as Ureke would post a career-high 13 kills. Fittingly, it was Hansel herself who put down the final kill after 133 minutes of all-out competition.
Concordia-Chicago (Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference): The only time the Sabercats were allotted for recovery from the five-set thriller was the warmup time that the Cougars needed to get going. To make matters worse, the CUC defense was ubiquitous, as they limited MBU to 34 kills despite a season-high 143 attacks (in three sets) from the MBU hitters. As it turned out, playing consecutive matches was too much for the Sabercats, especially after a two-hour-plus opening match. Janke ended up doing yeoman's work, logging 30-plus digs for the second match in a row and just the second time this season. Ureke picked up 17 digs as well, but the duo's defensive efforts were not enough to give the Sabercats new life. Worn down from the five-set opener, Maranatha took their first sweep of the season to a tall and powerful Cougar side.
MBU Starters: 4- Hansel, 7- Janke, 9- Johnson, 10- Johnson, 12- Brimer, 17- Carpenter (UWS match), 22- Ureke, 24- Rueb (CUC match)
STATS (two-match totals)
- Hansel: 34 K, 23 D, 1 double-double
- Karley: 13 K, 51 A, 14 D, 1 double-double
- Kelsey Johnson: 17 K, 32 A, 25 D, 1 triple-double, 2 double-doubles
- Janke: 68 D (season-high 37 digs vs UWS)
- J. Ureke: 20 K, 32 D (career-high 13 kills vs UWS)
- Hansel, Brimer: Both reached 100 career blocks tonight
- MBU: 199 attacks in UWS match
- Series: Maranatha leads the all-time series with Wisconsin-Superior 2-1
- Series: Maranatha trails the all-time series with Concordia-Chicago 5-8
The Sabercats conclude play at the Warrior Invitational tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. against Beloit College. Follow at mbusabercats.com/schedule.