HARAHAN, La. — Angelica Anthony unleashed a barrage of strikes coming off the bench and Paige Peters made critical shots from her anchor perch as Vanderbilt downed feisty Youngstown State 2-1 in the mega-match format to advance into the title match of the Southland Bowling League Championship on Saturday.
The Commodores will play the winner of the Louisiana Tech-Youngstown State match – which is scheduled for 8 a.m. Sunday – in the double-elimination tournament. If Vanderbilt were to lose, the two teams would play again in a winner-take-all final
— Southland Bowling (@SouthlandBowl) March 26, 2022
Anthony, a senior who had a 300 game and enjoyed some dazzling strike strings earlier in the season, regained her magic on the Colonial Lanes. She nailed 18 strikes in 20 frames to give the Commodores valuable oxygen against an inspired and talented Youngstown team that was scoring well in its own right.
Peters showed why she was SBL Newcomer of the Year by coming through in several pressure situations to secure or rescue Baker game victories.
Vanderbilt lost the opening traditional game 1,044-1,039 after a late missed-makeable spare attempt proved costly. The second-seeded and fourth-ranked Dores battled back to take a high-scoring 5-game Baker set 1,139-1,130 that was only secure after Peters struck out in the final game.
After two games of that set the Commodores found themselves in a 72-pin hole but a monster third game – a 276-172 rout – not only erased the huge deficit in one swoop but claimed a 32-pin lead.
With the teams splitting points, it was on to the best-of-seven Bakers, where the scoring cooled off for both teams. Vanderbilt found nice strike runs at just the right time to win the match in four straight games. Peters doubled in the second and fourth games to clinch wins but she got plenty of help from Anthony, Mabel Cummins and Amanda Naujokas.
Youngstown, the No. 4 seed in the rugged SBL and ranked ninth nationally, got big efforts from Kirsten Moore, Emma Dockery and Emma Wren.
“Those were two teams playing at a very high end,” Vandy head coach John Williamson said. “Not too often do you find two teams playing at that level. It was fun. It was like a game of HORSE – we’d make a shot and they’d make a shot. They made one more shot than we did in the traditional game and that 276 Baker turned it around a little later.”
Williamson said the team has tremendous confidence in his freshman star Peters.
“Paige exudes this confidence that is very contagious for many on our team,” Williamson said. “She plays way older than she is. When she has the ball people think she’s going to make a good shot and more times than not she will.”
For her part, Peters admits to occasional nerves.
“In the traditional game I was quite tense in the beginning,” Peters said, “but we talked as a group and we figured out how to loosen up and have fun. As it kept going I got more comfortable, I had my teammates behind me. Having a great support system like that helps with the nerves.”
Williamson said the Commodores have used a rotation of two seniors to good results.
“As Angelica gets further left she gets more comfortable, she’s able to open her angles,” he says. “Sam (Samantha Gainor) is really good when it’s playing straight and as we go left it gets into Angelica’s wheelhouse. She was a little erratic in practice but as she settled down she was exactly what we needed.”
Said Anthony: “The lane was playing pretty left when I got in and that’s my comfort zone. I have been throwing that ball all weekend so I know how it’s going to react. I was feeling super calm and confident and it came super simple to me. I felt comfortable because we were all doing it as a team, keeping my thoughts the same and keeping them simple.”
The exact start time of the title match is unknown as it depends on how quickly the Tech-Youngstown match is settled. Inside Bowling has provided a free live stream of the tournament and will continued to do so Sunday.
Vanderbilt is the defending Southland champion, having defeated Louisiana Tech a year ago in the final.