Dores Down Red Wolves on Day 1

Vandy is ranked fourth heading into Saturday’s games

by Rod Williamson

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A win over third-ranked Arkansas State highlighted a blue-collar day as Vanderbilt ground out four wins in its five Baker matches at the Stallings Invitational.

The Commodores ended Friday in fourth place, trailing Arkansas State, Jacksonville State and North Carolina A&T in a tightly bunched leaderboard.

It was a day in which Vanderbilt defeated unranked opponents Belmont Abbey, Norfolk State and Howard in addition to the Red Wolves while bowing to 11th-ranked Sam Houston State when its spare shooting went south.

“I actually thought we bowled pretty well,” head coach John Williamson said afterwards. “As the lanes transitioned, instead of getting easier as they often do, they got harder. The striking potential diminished in the third and fourth matches, which along with some execution was the primary reason our scores sagged a bit there. And I thought that while we didn’t bowl particularly well against Sam Houston, we competed well in that match.”

The Commodores began the morning with a rotation of Caroline Thesier, Kailee Channell, Haley Lindley, Paige Peters and Victoria Varano. That quintet started strong with games of 244 and 234 but cooled off to finish off Belmont Abbey, 1,018-849.

Alyssa Ballard came in for Thesier and Vandy had its best set with five games over 200 while downing Norfolk State, 1,109-849. The Dores posted steady scores of 203, 216, 240, 215 and 235.

Vanderbilt got off to a good start against Sam Houston before seven missed makeable spares spelled doom against the Bearkats, dropping the match 1,008-973. The match included the day’s most entertaining game when Sam Houston rattled off the front seven, only to see the feisty Commodores string six strikes of their own in a well-played, 246-222 Vandy win.

A win over Howard preceded the anticipated finale with Arkansas State, the two powerhouses that played for the championship just five days ago at the Mid-Winter Invitational that was won by the Red Wolves.

Vandy grabbed an early advantage in the five-game set, and it grew to 67-pins after the third game. Neither team was striking at a torrid pace and Arkansas State’s late rally could only trim the Dores’ final margin to 1,002-973.

Some fans might have questioned Vanderbilt’s lane choice in the Arkansas State match. The team leading the set after four games has the choice of which lane it prefers to bowl on for the fifth game.

Williamson explained that both teams had slid far to the left edge of the approach in making their initial shots—so far, in fact, that the ball return was in the way of this strategy on the right side. Vandy chose the left side, making the first shots more difficult for the Red Wolves despite their striking five of the first six frames.

Saturday’s traditional games begin at 7:25 a.m. CT and will be streamed on the Vanderbilt Athletics YouTube site.

Editor’s Note: We failed to mention in Thursday’s tournament notebook that the Commodores were touring a significant historical site before its practice session, as is the custom of the Vanderbilt program whenever possible. The Vandy party visited the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in downtown Greensboro, which sits on the same location as the famous Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins of 1960 that attracted worldwide attention.