Channell Leads Dores to the No. 3 Seed

Kailee Channell finished fourth individually with a 229.40 game average

JONESBORO, Ark. — Kailee Channell’s strike-filled scorecards sparked Vanderbilt into the No. 3 seed for Sunday’s championship bracket at the Mid-Winter Invitational Saturday.

The steady Commodores won three of their five matches to snare the No. 3 seed and will square off with fourth-seeded Youngstown State in a quick rematch in Sunday’s baker bracket play. Host Arkansas State nabbed the top seed and plays two-seed Jacksonville State.

Channell, a seldom played junior who is the program’s first native Tennessean, began her day with a lackluster 165 before following with blazing 233, 242, 258 and 249 games to average 229.4 (245.5 over the last four). Her multiple strike strings were a major reason the Commodores were over the 1000-pin barrier in every match.

Channell, who finished fourth individually, was Vandy’s story of the day.

“It was good to see her show what we knew she could do,” head coach John Williamson said. “She’s worked hard after missing last year with hip surgery. The shot played to her game, and she stayed out of trouble; she averaged 245 over four games without striking on her 10th frame first ball and that’s hard to do.”

Williamson thought his team was close to getting it right but was slightly out of rhythm.

“Timing is important, and we didn’t quite have it today,” he said. “We didn’t strike at times when we really needed one. We missed a few key spares. But those two losses were competitive matches, and it was good to see us execute and compete.”

The Commodores won their first three matches of the day to run their tourney record to 8-0. They downed 10th-ranked Maryville, Alabama State and 15th-ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater before getting to the main events on their card…top-ranked Jacksonville State and second-rated Youngstown State.

Using the same rotation as Friday—Caroline Thesier, Channell, Paige Peters, Amanda Naujokas and Victoria Varano—the Commodores were within striking distance of Jacksonville State until late in the match. The match was closer than the 1,067-1,023 final score might indicate.

Channell was outstanding, tossing seven in a row at one point and ending with a 258. That offset the Gamecocks’ Maranda Pattison’s 256 as the pair produced a highlight reel. Jacksonville State was steadier through its veteran lineup than Vandy.

Vanderbilt ended the afternoon with Youngstown State and grabbed the early lead behind Channell and Thesier. Vandy’s 30-pin lead after six frames slowly evaporated, a combination of missed-makeable conversions, a couple splits and Youngstown State’s Kirsten Moore’s flashy 279.  Channell did all she could once again, her 249 highlighted by another seven-bagger.

Vanderbilt won back-to-back Mid-Winter titles in 2019 and 2020 but hasn’t been back to this tournament since.

Sunday’s play begins at 8:10 a.m., streamed live on the Vanderbilt Athletics YouTube page.