NAPERVILLE, Ill. -- It was a story of what might have been, as a long evening of competition sent the Sabercats packing with two dramatic, hard-fought, five-set losses tonight.
The Sabercats have made their last four matches interesting, as each one has gone to a fifth frame.
- MBU 2-3 Anderson (25-19, 6-25, 25-18, 18-25, 15-17)
- MBU 2-3 North Central (25-22, 25-18, 23-25, 20-25, 8-15)
- Venue: Gregory Arena, North Central College
- Location: Naperville, Ill.
- Record: MBU (8-8)
Anderson: MBU came out with a match-high 14 kills in the opening set, as they took the lead for the first time midway through the opening frame. Four ensuing kills from Gabrielle Carpenter promptly wrapped things up for MBU, as they took control with a 10-6 run to close out the early advantage in the match - 1-0 MBU.
The Ravens bounced back and were practically unstoppable in the second set, as they had an unreasonably high .667 attack percentage, smacking down 14 kills from 21 attempts. The Sabercats simply couldn't stop the bleeding, as they came up on the wrong side of a 25-6 set. The Sabercats ended the set with a kill for every point they had.
In the third set, the Sabercats took back some control of the match, logging a 25-18 win to take a 2-1 advantage. Four kills from Claire Hansel and three late connections from Jessica Ureke fueled a solid showing for Maranatha in the third frame. The defense was just as good, as Maranatha recorded five blocks as a team in the third set alone.
Hansel would go on to record a career-high 16 kills, which is the highest kill count for an individual this season for MBU.
Set four saw things swing back in favor of Anderson, as the Ravens pulled away in the middle of the set. Once again, the attack was pinpoint from AU, as they registered one hitting error in the entire set. Combine their second and fourth sets, and the Ravens had an attack line of 27-1-46. Not too shabby from the Indiana school.
Unfortunately for the Sabercats, Anderson kept the amps up on their attack for the final set. The Ravens slammed down 12 kills to take home a 17-15 win. But the Sabercats made it interesting. They seemed to be down and out with an 11-4 deficit, but a rally spurred by three kills from Kelsey Johnson brought the Sabercats right back in it. But the Ravens persisted. Much like the Wisconsin Lutheran match on Thursday, the Sabercats once again came up on the wrong side of a 3-2 loss and a lengthy final frame.
North Central: It ended up being the same result as the first match, but the story was much different. The Sabercats went up 2-0 and saw a match that was within their reach fall to a spirited Cardinals squad.
A solo block from Karley Johnson seemed to turn things around for the Sabercats in the opening set - after going down 16-12, the Sabercats strung together a 7-2 run to take a 19-18 lead. Allyson Brimer and Carpenter provided decisive late kills, and the Sabercats were out to a 1-0 in the match after a gritty opening-set performance.
The match seemed to be going Maranatha's way in the second set, as they rode the momentum of a couple of Ureke kills to take a 9-3 lead. The Sabercats never looked back, as they kept the kills coming. Seven of the last 10 MBU points came from the attack, and Maranatha looked to be heading for a straight-set win over NCC.
But the Cardinals were determined to put in a good showing. This was their event, after all.
After going down, 19-16, the Cardinals took the lead at the key time in the third set. Four closing kills from NCC made a big difference, as the hosts came away with a 25-23 win and priceless momentum.
The fourth set was an offensive battle, as they two teams combined for 29 kills and less than 10 errors on the attack. It seemed to be a question of who wanted it more, as the Sabercats answered a mid-set run from the Cardinals with a 7-2 run to tie the set at 20 apiece. After a North Central timeout, the hosts had settled their nerves enough to close out the match with five unanswered points. Suddenly the Sabercats had gone from 2-0 up to holding the short end of the stick.
Things started decently for the Sabercats in the deciding set, but NCC's newfound momentum was simply too much to handle. The ever-improving Cardinal offense notched 10 kills in the fifth set alone, as the hosts closed out the nail-biter with three straight-set wins.
- Kelsey: tallied a career-high 14 kills against Anderson
- Karley: not coincidentally, logged a career-high 33 assists against Anderson
- Claire Hansel: recorded a career-best 16 kills against North Central
- Team: Hansel's 16 kills were the individual-best mark in a single match this season for MBU
- McKenzie Janke: recorded over 20 digs in both matches
- Carpenter: recorded 5 blocks against Anderson
- MBU: last four matches have gone to 5 sets (as noted above)