ARLINGTON, Texas — If Vanderbilt is to continue its tournament winning streak in 2020, it has got its work cut out for itself Sunday.
The Commodores improved their production during Saturday’s five traditional games, but in a high-octane field, saw themselves slip from fourth into fifth place with one more match left in the Prairie View A&M Invitational round-robin before bracket play commences Sunday.
McKendree, Sam Houston State, Maryland-Eastern Shore and Nebraska, respectively, hold the top four spots with Vandy just 21 pins behind the fourth-place Huskers.
As was the case Friday, Vanderbilt once again won just 2 of 5 matches. It topped Fairleigh Dickinson in a low scoring contest to start the day, then bowled better in losses to red-hot UMES and a one-pin loss to McKendree before beating Wisconsin-Whitewater.
The day closed with Nebraska topping Vandy in a well-played match.
“We still had execution issues today but if we can learn something today, we might have had a turning point after Match 2,” Vanderbilt associate head coach Josie Barnes said. “Mel (Amelia Keifer) had a rough first game but she really responded and may have turned her season around. She had been down on herself so it was important for her to see success.”
Keifer had games of 202-196-214 to close the day after an opening 146.
For the second day in a row, the Vanderbilt coaches were scrambling to find a functioning lineup. They had started with Emily Rigney, Mabel Cummins, Adel Wahner, Samantha Gainor and Maria Bulanova, but that quintet managed just 911 pins in a narrow win over FDU.
Keifer, a freshman, got her chance in the next game against UMES, a team coming off a monster 1,162 pin count in its first game and still sizzling in a 1,088-950 win over Vandy.
However, it seemed apparent that this unit was clicking better and it stayed together for Match 3 against McKendree. All five Dores were over 200 in this match, which came down to the anchors in the 10th frame before the Bearcats escaped with a 1,054-1,053 win.
Bulanova led the way for VU with a 224, striking out to make it ever so close.
A 1,003 effort in Match 4 was more than enough to swamp Whitewater. The afternoon closed with a solid performance against the Huskers.
Led by Bulanova’s 229 and a 214 by Keifer the Commodores knocked down 1,017 pins but Nebraska was cruising with 1,068. The Vanderbilt rotation had stayed steady until the finale when Cummins was reinserted into the lineup for Dalesandro.
Sunday’s format is a bit different because the tournament plays a complete round-robin in the 12-team field. That pits Vandy against Saint Francis (Pa.) before the bracket gets set for just two, best-of-seven Bakers to determine final standings.
As per normal, a team must qualify with one of the top four seeds to have a chance at winning the tournament, thus the constant push to get into that group.
Eleven of the participating teams are ranked in the most recent top 25 poll are competing making a tough place to soar if your team is not in sync.
Play begins at 8:25 a.m. Sunday and is live streamed on BowlTV.