The Sabres will be taking on the fifth-seeded Aurora Spartans (12-13, 5-7 NACC) after Marian won a tie-breaker over the Spartans for the No. 4 seed. Marian and Aurora split a pair of matches during the regular season with the road team winning in four sets both matches. The Marian offense had similar performances for both matches but the Spartans ended up hitting .237 in their victory but were held to a .188 hitting percentage in the loss.
The Sabres enter the NACC Tournament after arguably the biggest win in program history defeating then-ranked No. 7 Dominican in four sets. Senior Aaron Wendels led the way in the victory with a match-high 20 kills to go with seven digs and three total blocks. Wendels was named the NACC Player of the Week for the performance, the first NACC weekly award in program history.
Marian features the top two attackers in the NACC in junior Jon Smallpage and Wendels. Wendels and Smallpage are tied for the conference lead in kills with 324 and kills per set at 3.45. The Sabre duo are the only players in the conference to average more than 3.0 kills per set this season.
The Sabres have one of the top liberos in the NACC as well in junior Cullen Liberski who has had another strong season. Liberski enters postseason action ranked second in the conference with 308 digs and a 3.28 digs per set average. The Germantown, Wis. native is coming off a 14-dig performance in the four set victory over then-ranked No. 7 Dominican.
One of the most notable keys to watch for in the match tonight will simply be who wins the third set. For the Sabres, winning the third set has been a good indicator that the Sabres will win the match boasting an 11-2 record when winning the third. When Marian drops the third set, they are only 1-12 with the lone win coming against Illinois Tech at home.
Aurora has had a strong inaugural season and enter the NACC Tournament as the fifth seed. The Spartans had a rough start to the beginning of March but enter postseason action after defeating Lakeland in five sets and CUW in straight sets. Freshman Tim Breiter ranks third in the NACC with a 2.97 kills per set average, while fellow freshman Justin Yost is third in the conference with 9.34 assists per set.
The match will be streamed live on the Marian Sports Network at https://portal.stretchinternet.com/marianwi/ with the broadcast beginning at 6:50 p.m. Live stats will also be available at http://sabreathletics.com/sports/mvball/2017-18/boxscores/20180410_46bp.xml.
The winner will head on to the semifinal round where nationally-ranked and top-seeded Dominican awaits for a 7 p.m. match Thursday, April 12.