GREENVILLE, S.C. -- After going 1-1 today, the Sabercats have put themselves into what is probably a must-win situation against #3 Geneva tomorrow.
After falling to a tough #7 Randall squad, the Sabercats topped #6 Toccoa Falls 3-1 to end the day. With the current Pool B standings, tomorrow is going to interesting.
- #2 Maranatha 1-3 #7 Randall (23-25, 25-17, 24-26, 19-25)
- #2 Maranatha 3-1 #6 Toccoa Falls (25-13, 25-16, 23-25, 25-18)
- Venue: Davis Field House, Bob Jones University
- Location: Greenville, S.C.
- Attendance: 149, 133
- Records: MBU (24-5), RU (20-16), TFC (17-12)
#7 Randall (Southwest Region At-Large): The Saints surprised the Sabercats in the first set by jumping out to a gritty 18-13 lead to ask questions of the Sabercats' resolve and to force Regina DeLozier to call a timeout. The Saints regrouped after an MBU run, and Teagan Hamilton continued her dynamic play at the net, swinging Randall back in front and a 25-23 win in the opening set of the tournament.
But the Sabercats settled down in the second set, as Gabrielle Carpenter and Claire Hansel swung MBU out to a 9-2 lead in the second frame. From there, the Sabercats had very little doubt in the set, as they kept the Saints in their place to finish out the eight-point win in the second set.
As it turned out, that turnaround from MBU awakened the beast. Early kills from Kinzee Goodno gave Randall a 10-4 lead in the third set, and it looked like things were really going Randall's way. But after going down 19-14, the Sabercats regrouped and came storming back. Kills from Carpenter, Hansel, and Kelsey Johnson tied the set at 24, but a kill and a block from Randall ended things at 26-24. The Sabercats were on the back foot and in danger of dropping their first NCCAA match since the 2018 National Championship.
To the Sabercats' chagrin, the loss came in the very next set. Goodno and Hamilton led the charge for the Saints, whose misfiring hitters kept the Sabercats in the set early on. As Randall began to land their attacks, the momentum had shifted once again in their favor, and three late kills from Hamilton were the hammer blows to the Sabercats in the end. With a 25-19 win, the Saints had upset Pool B and the MBU Sabercats.
#6 Toccoa Falls (South Region At-Large): The Sabercats were sharper against the Screaming Eagles, as it seemed like Maranatha needed to just shake some rust off. Hansel kept her momentum going at the net, swinging Maranatha out to a convincing lead to both settle the Maranatha nerves and ask questions of Toccoa Falls.
The second set followed a similar storyline, as the Sabercats once again kept the Screaming Eagles on hold. Hansel and Karley Johnson got the offense going while McKenzie Janke, Kelsey Johnson, and Jessica Ureke spearheaded the defensive efforts. With a 25-16 win, the Sabercats were cruising.
TFC wasn't about to go down that easy, though. In a back-and-forth battle of a third set, the Screaming Eagles won the battle of the wills, taking a 25-23 win in an offense-heavy third set.
Undeterred, the Sabercats responded just the way they needed to, winning 25-18 in the final set to take home the 3-1 win. Maranatha smothered the Toccoa offense, allowing just nine kills in the set to take a much-needed 3-1 win.
MBU Starters: 4- Hansel, 7- Janke, 9- Johnson, 10- Johnson, 12- Brimer, 17-Carpenter, 22- Ureke
STATS (two-match totals)
- Hansel: 35 K, 22 D, 2 double-doubles
- Karley: 20 K, 42 A, 17 D, 1 double-double
- Kelsey: 19 K, 44 A, 22 D, 1 triple-double
- Janke: 38 D
- Carpenter: 14 K, 10 D
- Ureke: 13 K, 21 D
- Series: MBU leads the Maranatha-Randall series 5-0
- Series: MBU leads the Maranatha-Toccoa Falls series 5-0
POOL B OUTLOOK
The Sabercats will face #3 Geneva College tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. in the key match of the pool. The result of tomorrow's games will determine the seedings for the National Semifinals. At this stage, everyone in the pool has a mathematical chance of qualifying for the semifinal, so tomorrow's matches will be high-stakes.
Maranatha will advance to the National Semifinals under the following situations:
|Maranatha-Geneva match||AND||Toccoa Falls-Randall match|
|Maranatha wins 3-0||N/A||(automatic qualifier)|
|Maranatha wins 3-1 or 3-2||AND||Toccoa Falls beats Randall|
|Maranatha wins 3-1 (and has more total points than Geneva)||AND||Randall beats Toccoa|
Stay up to date at mbusabercats.com/schedule.