2023 National Championship & Season Recap
Making history was the challenge...a team of 2 seniors, 1 junior, 3 sophomores and 5 freshman...made history. This years Thunder Volleyball squad was a special one! It what looked from the outside as a rebuilding year, this team proved differently.
"Words cannot express how proud I am of this team, each player stepped up and stepped in when needed, worked incredibly hard, showed the most selfless attitudes I've ever seen and never quit." said Coach Sanders after returning from the National Tournament.
The season started off hot with 2 wins over Cottey College and Central Christian College and 2 losses against Stephens College and Sterling College at the Thunder Invitational Tournament. From there, the team would only lose 1 other match in the regular season against Cottey College. MCC went undefeated against NCCAA DII opponents in the regular season with the only other loss coming in the National Championship match. With a record of 28 wins and only 4 losses, this team has the record for the least amount of losses in a season.
MCC went into the National Tournament as the #2 seed and in a pool with #3 Arlington Baptist University, #6 Boyce College and #7 Faith Baptist Bible College.
The Thunder started pool play with a sweep over Faith Baptist, defeating them for the third time this season. Next up would be a tougher match up with Boyce College. It would prove to be a back and forth battle as MCC struggled to find their rhythm and settle into their game. The team battled through it and came away with the 5 set win!
The next day, Arlington Baptist proved to be another tough match. After going up 2 sets, Arlington turned it on and took the next two sets, forcing a tie breaker set. MCC would come away with the win in the 5th set! It was an incredible defensive effort on both sides. The Thunder had 16 blocks and 120 digs!
With a 3-0 record in pool play, MCC would advance to the semi-final match to play against Grace Christian University, who finished 2nd in the other pool.
This semi-final match was one of the best matches the Thunder played all season. Knowing what was on the line and what they wanted to accomplish, MCC came out firing on all cylinders. The offense was strong with 34 kills and a .273 attacking percentage while defensively holding Grace to a .107 attacking percentage, with 6 blocks and 45 digs. History was made, and Thunder Volleyball was heading to the National Championship match for the first time in program history.
The National Championship match would bring on 5 time National Champions Bob Jones University. BJU proved to be too much for the young Thunder squad. MCC rallied many times, fought to the very end and never quit, but came up short, losing the match 0-3.
"It was just incredible to be playing for a National Championship with this team. Many people doubted them and didn't think they had what it took to get there. But this team proved them all wrong throughout the National Tournament. We never gave up and never settled! They made history this year, being the first team to play in the Championship match and I know we will be back!" commented Coach Sanders.
The following awards were also announced at the National Championship:
Liv Lubbers - 1st Team All-American and Tournament Most Valuable Player
Hali Bloomdahl - 1st Team All-American
Coach Lauren Sanders - National Coach of the Year
History made, and looking forward to the future to continue making history!