KENOSHA, Wisc. — Vanderbilt earned the third seed after play Saturday at the Ladyjack Hammer Classic and will face Nebraska in the first round of Sunday’s championship bracket.
Sam Houston State used some big pin counts late in the day to ease back into the No. 1 seed and will play McKendree in the opening match of best-of-seven Bakers.
The Commodores won all four of their team games Saturday, knocking off Marian University, 10th-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater, Elmhurst and No. 16 Saint Francis University on a day that lacked the drama of Friday’s opening contests.
“The Center was more challenging today as the right and left ends were playing differently,” Vanderbilt head coach John Williamson noted. “We did a decent job of putting scores together. It was also a day in which no opponent really pushed us so you find yourself bowling for a score with little adrenaline running.”
With Vanderbilt taking care of its business for the most part, the major suspense was if it could hold onto first place – which it had for much of the day – and if anchor Maria Bulanova would win her sixth collegiate tournament – which she did.
The Moscow, Russia, senior was a dominating force, averaging a mighty 243.8 to easily out-distance Sam Houston’s Elise Chambers who was a distant second at 230.60. Bulanova had games of 246-265-215-234-257 for a total of 1,219. Her best run was a string of eight as she closed out her 265 game.
Bulanova’s six tourney titles are the most by any Commodore in program history. This one came in a field that included the nation’s top six rated teams. She has won roughly 20 percent of the tournaments she’s entered since arriving on campus.
“I told her before we started today that if she had a loose arm swing she would win the tournament,” Williamson said. “I’m happy for her because she works hard and takes great pride in what she does. She was on today and was feeling it and she rarely threw an errant shot.”
In the team game format, where each of five players bowl a standard 10-frame game, Vandy began with a rotation of Adel Wahner, Angelique Dalesandro, Mabel Cummins, Samantha Gainor and Bulanova. Amelia Kiefer went in for Wahner in Game 4 and Emily Rigney replaced Gainor in the finale.
Vandy only played four games Saturday as it had an opening bye in the unbalanced field of 15 and bowled a 1,112 in that bye.
The rotation of Wahner, Dalesandro, Cummins, Gainor and Bulanova closed their 10th frames with 13 strikes in a row. It was not until Maria missed on her second ball did all the pins stop falling.
For the game, Vandy scores ranged from 212 to Bulanova’s 246 and those pins counted as any other match toward total daily pin fall.
Looking forward, Vanderbilt downed Nebraska on Friday in a well-played, 5-Game Baker match 1,120-1,076.
Play begins at 8:30 a.m. Sunday at the Sheridan Lanes and is live streamed on Vanderbilt bowling’s YouTube channel.