KISSIMMEE, Fla. – In a rematch of Region champions, Maranatha and runner-up Lincoln Christian, the Crusaders clicked on all cylinders with accurate, timely hitting, and stingy defense for a 3-0 sweep.
Maranatha held a 16-8 lead in set one, before Lincoln roared back on the serves of Emily Sheley for a run that put Lincoln within 20-18. But junior middle blocker Laci Peterson (Chillicothe, Ill.) carried the team on her back with several kills for the 25-19 win.
After trailing 9-2 in set two, Lincoln crawled back to 12-9 deficit, and forced a timeout at 15-9. It was Maranatha’s defense that played a big part in set two, with multiple rejections and blocks, and the offense continued to produce, keying a 25-15 win.
Maranatha carried a lead through most of set three, before Lincoln pulled to within 22-20.
Maranatha jumped ahead 23-21, but Lincoln pulled the game even on a decisive kill, then took a 24-23 lead. The game see-sawed back in Maranatha’s favor when senior hitter Torey DeLozier (Watertown, Wis.) crushed the ball for a 24-all tie, and freshman Samantha Swiatek’s ace on the next play gave Maranatha a 25-24 lead.
Lincoln failed to keep the ball in play on the next point, and Maranatha endured the late pushback by the Red Lions for a 26-24 win.
In earlier action, Maranatha defeated the #7 seed, Ohio Christian on a 3-0 sweep. The Crusaders have not lost a set in the National Tournament and remained undefeated in NCCAAII play with a 13-0 record.
The team moves on to face Kentucky Christian in a semifinal match at 12:00 p.m. EST on the main court.
If Maranatha wins, they advance to the championship match at 4:00 p.m. EST