GREENVILLE, S.C. -- In a scintillating rematch of last year's national championship, the Sabercats had their hearts broken at the hands of Bob Jones for the second year in a row.
The #1-seeded BJU Bruins defended their home floor with a gritty 3-1 win, securing their second consecutive national title after a noteworthy season.
- Result: #2 Maranatha 1-3 #1 Bob Jones (17-25, 18-25, 25-23, 22-25)
- Venue: Davis Field House, Bob Jones University
- Location: Greenville, S.C.
- Attendance: 557
- Competition: NCCAA DII National Championship
- Records: MBU (26-6), BJU (35-4)
#1 Bob Jones (South Region Champions): The first set was defined by runs, as the Bruins answered a 3-0 statement from MBU with a 12-3 run of their own, taking a 12-6 lead to grab the momentum. BJU called the shots at the net, limiting Maranatha to hitting just two percent as the Bruins seemed to be just one step ahead of Maranatha. After a high-energy opening set, the Bruins took the 1-0 advantage in the match with a 25-17 win.
The Sabercats were just a step behind in the second set, as they seemed to be flat-footed defensively. BJU took what seemed to be an effortless 14-7 lead, as they seemed to land everything right in the gaps of the MBU defense. A big swing from Gabrielle Carpenter and a kill from Jessica Ureke after a long volley gave Maranatha some momentum late in the set, pulling the score to 16-20, but Bob Jones refused to loosen their grip on the match. Late kills from the Bruins gave them a 25-18 win in the second set, and just like that, memories of last year's championship came flooding back. BJU was on the verge of the repeat.
But Maranatha showed their experience and resolve in the next set, swinging themselves out to an 11-4 lead. The Bruins capitalized on some errors at the net from Maranatha, and when Emma Riddle slammed down a kill to make it 16-12, Regina DeLozier was forced to call another timeout. Two Bruins points later, Carpenter had a kill to stop the bleeding, and a huge kill from Claire Hansel after a long volley helped give Maranatha a 21-17 lead. A sturdy block from Ureke and Carpenter and a kill from Kelsey Johnson ended a set that seemed to last forever, and the Sabercats had climbed their way back into the match, winning 25-23 to extend the championship.
The Bruins' performance in the final set was worthy of a national title. Maranatha looked to be tying the match, going ahead 22-17 in the fourth frame, but a high-energy run of 8-0 lifted the Bruins to the top of the set, the match, and the nation for the second year in a row.
This was the final match for Maranatha's six seniors: McKenzie Janke, Karley Johnson, Kelsey Johnson, Allyson Brimer, Gabrielle Carpenter, and Jessica Ureke all see their careers end after making it back to the title match in every season they played.
MBU Starters: 4- Hansel, 7- Janke, 9- Johnson, 10- Johnson, 12- Brimer, 17-Carpenter, 22- Ureke
- Hansel: 12 K
- Kelsey: 11 K
- Brook Beaver: led everyone with 21 K and 21 D for Bob Jones
- All-Tournament Team: Hansel and Kelsey Johnson were given all-tournament honors
- Last time: Bob Jones beat Maranatha 3-0 in last year's National Championship
- Series: BJU now leads the series 2-1
The Sabercats conclude the season with a record of 26-6 after their fifth consecutive trip to the NCCAA DII title match. A full recap of the season will be coming at mbusabercats.com.