JONESBORO, Ark. — One of Vanderbilt’s goals heading into the Mid-Winter Classic was to avoid another sluggish first day performance that has plagued the Commodores in recent weeks.
With a perfect 4-0 won-loss mark and a second-place standing in total pin fall, Vandy came very close to checking this off its to-do list. The Commodores were impressive in wins over seventh-ranked Stephen F. Austin and 11th-rated Louisiana Tech along with a blowout of Alabama A&M, but stumbled midway through the finale against No. 19 Maryville before prevailing with its poorest pin production of the day.
The rotation of Adel Wahner, Samantha Gainor, Angelique Dalesandro, Mabel Cummins and Maria Bulanova allowed the Commodores to sail to pin counts well above 1,000 in its first four matches (there was a bye match in the uneven field) before faltering in a 909-884 win against Maryville.
That low pin count essentially frittered away a healthy lead on the quality field and, as a result, Vandy enters Saturday 18 pins behind McKendree on the leader board.
“I thought we were pretty consistent for the first 20 or 22 games but we lost our focus late,” Vanderbilt head coach John Williamson said. “We need to learn how to finish these long days – we weren’t making good first shots. All in all, we did a good job however. We had put a priority on doubling and we did a good job of that.”
Williamson pointed to Wahner and Cummins as catalysts for the Commodores’ strong day.
“Adel didn’t have an open and had a frame average of 22,” Williamson noted, “and at one point Mabel had 15 strikes in 17 frames. She averaged 21.95.”
Vandy began the day with Dalesandro in the two-hole and Gainor fourth but the pair was switched midway in the second game. The Dores were ice cold to start the morning, posting a meager 138, but roared back a few minutes later with a torrid 277, the only hiccups being a spare in the fifth and a 9-count on the third ball of the tenth.
The SFA match appeared to be Vanderbilt’s biggest test based on rankings, a rematch of programs in last April’s NCAA championship game. The Lady Jacks jumped out to a 233-222 lead in the 5-game Baker format, but Vandy kept up steady pressure with following games of 207-223-223-216 to win comfortably, 1,091-1,040.
SFA – as was Maryville – was otherwise unbeaten for the day.
The Commodores tend to not tinker with a hot lineup and therefore didn’t substitute the entire day.
Five team matches are in store Saturday beginning at 9:30 a.m. CT and live streamed on Vandy Bowling’s YouTube site. Vanderbilt, the nation’s fourth-ranked team, will play No. 3 Nebraska and No. 2 Sam Houston State to begin its day.