Through Pool Play

Through Pool Play
 LEAD

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- They may have won the first two sets, but Maranatha was ultimately surprised 3-2 by the courageous and determined Randall University Saints.

Despite the loss, the Sabercats are still through to the 2020 NCCAA DII National Semifinal, and will take on #2 Bob Jones University tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. in a rematch of last year's national championship.

OVERVIEW

  • Results: #1 Maranatha 2-3 #4 Randall (25-20, 25-22, 11-25, 20-25, 12-15)
  • Venue: Davis Field House, Bob Jones University
  • Location: Greenville, S.C.
  • Attendance: 73
  • Records: MBU (19-4), RU (9-7)

STORY

The match was delayed an hour and a half, meaning that the Sabercats had to readjust their competitive clocks, as it were. Undeterred, the Sabercats came out swinging, gradually building a lead that would hold until the set was done. Up 25-20 and leading the match 1-0, the Sabercats were flying.

But Randall made it very clear very quickly that they were there to play. Even though they lost the opening set, they vaulted out to a 16-7 lead in the second, putting the Sabercats on the back foot.

But Maranatha responded like champions. Claire Hansel, Caitrin Kemlo, and Mattie Bumpus fueled a big-swinging attack while Emily Johnson and Erica Ureke kept the ball alive for the Sabercats to make use of. Maranatha slowly but surely gained momentum back and ultimately completed the thrilling comeback with a 25-22 win. 

But as it turned out, that come-from-behind win took the wind out of the Sabercats' sails. They came out flat in the next set and allowed Randall the 11-25 win. Just like that, the match had turned on its head. The Sabercats were in front, but the momentum was completely on the other side of the net.

The same resolve that pulled the Sabercats back from that deficit in the second set showed signs of returning, but Randall was in too good of a rhythm from the third frame. The Saints thwarted every idea that the Sabercats threw at them. RU had four players with double-digit kills by the end of the match, and those four took advantage of the Sabercats' lapse in energy, putting down 21 kills in the fourth set alone to even the match 2-2.

A nervy fifth set was on the docket, and it could've gone either way. Early dominance at the net from Bumpus and Hansel gave the Sabercats a 7-5 edge, but Randall finally completed the comeback. Two late kills from Brooke Spears - one of Randall's most dangerous players on the day - put the killer blow down.

Just like that, Randall secured the upset, the comeback, their first-ever win over Maranatha, and the top spot in Pool A. All in one fell swoop.

MBU Starters: 3- Johnson, 4- Hansel, 8- Bumpus, 11- Ureke (L), 14- Kemlo, 22- Miller, 23- Anderson

STATS 

  • Hansel: 16 K, 16 D
  • Bumpus: 13 K, 7 B
  • Johnson: 38 A, career-high 24 D
  • Ureke: 28 D (ties carer-high)
  • Kemlo: 11 K, 4 SA
  • Series: Maranatha now leads the Randall series 5-1

NEXT

The Sabercats take on #2 Bob Jones University tomorrow at 12:30 Eastern in a rematch of the 2019 NCCAA DII National Championship. The winner of the Maranatha-Bob Jones match will play in the 2020 NCCAA DII National Championship tomorrow night at 5:00 p.m. Eastern. Follow at mbusabercats.com/schedule.

 

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