Bowlers earn second seed at NCAAs; Face MES Friday morning

April 10, 2008

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OMAHA, Neb. – Vanderbilt held the lead for the No. 1 qualifying seed nearly all of Thursday’s 11-hour bowling session but in the end, host Nebraska slipped by the Commodores to grab the top seed at the NCAA Bowling Championship.

The Commodores will face No. 7 Maryland-Eastern Shore in the first round of Friday’s double-elimination action. These same two schools met in last year’s national championship game, won by Vanderbilt. All of Friday’s competition will be webcast by the NCAA on starting at 9:30 CST.

“I am fine with the No. 2 seed,” said Vanderbilt coach John Williamson. “We bowled well for nearly the entire day with the exception of two lapses. But if you had asked me coming in if a two seed was okay, I’d have said sure. Today’s lane conditions were predictably tough and emphasized spare conversion. We did a decent job most of the time but in our last game with Nebraska they caught some early breaks, gained momentum and bowled better than we did.”

In that ninth and final game, Nebraska posted the day’s best Baker game with an 844 against Vanderbilt’s weakest effort of the day, a 668 over four games.

The nine qualifying games were only to establish tomorrow’s brackets and have no bearing on the tournament from here on out.

There were four team games played before the five ending Bakers and Vanderbilt had two of the top nine bowlers. Michelle Peloquin averaged 206 to place third and Josie Earnest, last year’s tournament MVP, was ninth at 197.75.

The fiery Earnest had mixed emotions about the long day’s outcome.

“Overall we had a stellar day but the last game was disappointing,” Earnest said. “Lane conditions varied considerably and we were often left with odd spare combinations. Different teams seemed to break down the lanes (oil patterns) differently and you had to pay attention to who you were following when we rotated.”

The five Baker games, normally a Vanderbilt strength, were feast or famine.

Vanderbilt posted two of the day’s top three Baker scores at 821 and 808, only to post two of the poorest scores of the afternoon with 673 and 668.

Some of that fluctuation was due to the tricky lane conditions and some of the problems came when good spare conversion opportunities slipped away.

Vanderbilt came out sizzling in the morning team games and led after the morning break.

No team was hotter than the Commodores, who rode the torrid play of its normal fifth bowler and steady hands of veterans Michelle Peloquin, Josie Earnest and Tara Kane.

Vanderbilt won all four of its games, which incidentally closed its season dual mark at 81-25. The Black and Gold topped Central Missouri, 1008-944 and then registered a morning high 1,047 in swamping Arkansas State.

The `Dores cooled in Games 3 and 4 as the lane conditions changed but still managed to beat Sacred Heart and last year’s national runner-up Maryland-Eastern Shore by comfortable margins.

Coach John Williamson has experimented with his lineup’s “fifth woman” much of the season and today he opted to go with redshirt freshman Brittany Garcia. She took advantage of that confidence by rolling games of 213 and 256 before cooling in Game 3 to 166.

At that point, Williamson interested sophomore Ashley Belden into the lineup and the New Mexico product responded with a steady 192.

Michelle Peloquin, a member of the all-tournament team here a year ago, was once again old reliable, churning out games of 188, 199, 226 and 211.

Earnest, last year’s NCAA MVP, was also consistent with 194, 201, 203 and 193 while Kane tallied 225, 166, 179 and 179.

Baker games resume in the afternoon and complete standing will be updated here and on and