Sabres Claw Past Cougars in Five Sets

Viviana Valenciana (#6) shoots an attack toward the Ripon wall. Ripon would go on to win in four sets, 3-1.
Viviana Valenciana (#6) shoots an attack toward the Ripon wall. Ripon would go on to win in four sets, 3-1.

RIVER FOREST, Ill. ( – A resilient Marian University women's volleyball squad scratched and clawed its way to a thrilling five-set victory over host Concordia University Chicago (19-25, 25-15, 23-25, 25-16, 15-7) in Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference play inside Geiseman Gymnasium, this evening, Oct. 18.

The Sabres fought back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to triumph past the Cougars, thus keeping their conference tournament hopes alive with three league matches left to play. Sophomores Anna Smit and Casey Lamberty both reached double figures, offensively, recording 12 and 11 kills, respectively.

Freshmen Morgan Dercks and Jordan Menges split 43 of the team's 45 assists nearly down the middle, while sophomore Katrina Jansen totaled 22 digs to lead the Sabres defensively.

Marian improved to 8-17 overall, 3-5 in the NACC, while CUC fell to 3-16 (1-7 NACC).

There was an evident trend throughout the match. When the Sabres kept their errors to a minimum, the result was favorable. In the two sets that the Cougars came away victorious, the Sabres committed 10 and 11 errors, respectively, while hitting for a negative percentage. In the three sets won, the Sabres hit a combined .235 with double-digit kills in the second and fourth sets played to 25.

Seven Sabres recorded four or more kills in the match, while four reached double figures in digs. Lamberty 11 kills and 15 digs were good enough for her sixth double-double of the season as she proved crucial in leading the Sabres on several occasions.

Trailing two sets to one, the Sabres needed to win the fourth to keep the match alive and they did so by using a huge 7-1 run to break an 8-8 tie. Kathryn Braunling got the rally started with a kill, followed by Lamberty, who gave Marian a two-point lead.

After CUC's Bianca Gordon put down one of her eight kills in the match, the Sabres came back with five straight points, including kills by Jansen and Katlin Jarvis. During the span, the Cougars were forced to burn both timeouts, but there was no slowing down the Sabres. Marian closed out the set with six of the final eight points.

In the decisive fifth set, Marian broke a 5-5 tie wide open by going on a 10-2 run to clinch the victory.

The Sabres will have a quick turnaround as they take on host Rockford College (2-19, 0-8 NACC) at 9 a.m.