Conference Tournament Run Comes to a Close

Vanderbilt dropped its elimination match to Louisiana Tech

by Rod Williamson

HARAHAN, La. — Vanderbilt was eliminated from the Conference USA Tournament by a torrid, strike-throwing Louisiana Tech team Saturday morning. The Bulldogs swept both mega-match points to hand the Commodores their second loss in this double-elimination tournament.

Bowling is a momentum game and Louisiana Tech had nothing but momentum in winning the traditional point, 1,102-1,024, then breaking open a close five-game Baker set in the fourth game to pull away for the game-winning point, 1,065-928.  The Bulldogs’ traditional score was their third straight over 1,100 in this event.

Vanderbilt’s losing traditional game of 1,024 was nearly 100 pins better than Youngstown State’s winning score in the adjacent elimination game to illustrate how powerful Louisiana Tech’s performance was.

The Commodores received strong scoring from Paige Peters (237), Haley Lindley (229) and Kailee Channell (214) but Tech’s Leinendecker sisters were too much to handle. Freshman Abbie Leiendecker notched a blistering 267, while her older sister Allie added 236 to lead the assault.

The traditional game had its moments. The Bulldogs grabbed a big lead when they rattled off 11 straight strikes from the third to the fifth frames, but Vanderbilt returned the favor with 12 straight strikes of its own in the fifth through seventh frames. Vandy actually held a modest lead heading into the 10th, but Louisiana Tech went on a strike-binge from the right lane while Vandy was unable to strike once from the left.

Vanderbilt had been able to rally Friday to win both Baker points and was battling to do the same again, leading by four pins after three games. However, the Bulldogs caught fire on the user-friendly right lane and blew the match open with a 248-193 win. With important lane choice Louisiana Tech was able to stay on the right side and cruised while the Commodores struggled on the stingier left lane.

The championship selection show will air on on March 27 at 3 p.m., ahead of regional matches in early April. The championships will take place April 12-13 from Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Michigan.