Trenton, N.J. — Vanderbilt won 4 of 5 matches on the opening day of the Monmouth Hawk Flight Invite and its accumulated pin fall put it second in the field of 12.
Tenth-ranked Duquesne, bolstered by a stunning 1,331 game, leads the Commodores by 310 pins (5,584-5,274) with Sam Houston State third and Wilmington fourth. The Dukes’ 1,331 score would rank among the all-time best in NCAA annals.
Vanderbilt notched wins over Monmouth, Saint Francis College, Long Island University and Felician while bowing to Southland Bowling League rival Sam Houston State.
The Commodores changed plot lines from its scripts of January tournament Fridays, starting with a burst before cooling off later in the day. They blasted host Monmouth in the opener 1,078-888 and followed that effort with a sterling 1,149-1,023 win over Saint Francis-Brooklyn.
All 10 Baker games were above 200 in those matches, which included a 269 and a 251. The rotation of Adel Wahner, Angelique Dalesandro, Samantha Gainor, Mabel Cummins and Maria Bulanova was clicking — especially Dalesandro and Bulanova.
Dalesandro, a sophomore from Illinois, sizzled with eight strikes in 10 frames against Monmouth and had nine bullseyes in 10 frames against SFC. Bulanova, a senior All-American, threw 14 strikes in the SFC match alone.
The hot streak continued in Game 3 with the Long Island match with the same lineup fashioning a 253, which started with the front seven. That gave Vandy a hefty 86-pin margin in the 5-Game Baker format and it cruised to a 1,070-1,013 win.
Dalesandro had struck 26 times in 30 frames at this point, an 87 percent strike percentage. To give some perspective, a season strike rate of just more than 50 percent would lead the NCAA.
Vandy’s disappointment came in the fourth match versus Sam Houston, two teams that have waged many memorable bowling battles. This one wasn’t so memorable for Vanderbilt.
The Commodores appeared to lose focus, their body language sagged and spare shooting – which had been superb – faltered. The 956 pin total was a big drop-off from earlier totals while the Kats piled it on with games of 189-226-210-184-234, 1,043.
“The lanes transitioned after the second game and we lost momentum and energy,” Bulanova explained. “We regained our bearings but it felt as though we were just tired as the day went on.”
As per usual, the Commodores stuck with hot hands until Emily Rigney came in for Cummins in the fourth game of the Sam Houston match. In the finale with Felician, freshman Amelia Kiefer acquitted herself well in the third spot of the rotation and Liz Ross came in to give Wahner a break in the lead-off role.
There are five team games on tap for Saturday, live streamed on the VandyBowling YouTube page. Action is scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. CT.