Lovely Start in Las Vegas

Commodores start Stormin' Blue & White with four wins

by Rod Williamson

LAS VEGAS — Vanderbilt defeated 4 of 5 opponents and ended the first day of the Stormin’ Blue and White Vegas Classic in second place as it resumed tournament play after the winter break.

McKendree is the first-day leader.

The Commodores defeated Spalding, 11th-ranked Maryville, ninth-ranked Louisiana Tech and Texas Southern while losing to 10th-ranked Maryland-Eastern Shore.

“I thought for the first day back after a long break it was generally a good showing,” Vandy head coach John Williamson said. “The USA Team Trials (in which six Commodores competed) and then the rest of our team flying here from their homes had an impact in my opinion. We seemed to tire out later in the day and didn’t finish as strong as we should have.”

Vanderbilt played its entire roster over the course of the 5-game Baker matches. It led with its familiar fall rotation of Mabel Cummins, Alyssa Ballard, Victoria Varano, Caroline Thesier and Paige Peters. Of that unit, Thesier and Cummins seemed to be closest to top form.

“Both Caroline and Mabel were very good today,” Williamson noted. “They both averaged north of 220.”

After wins over Spalding (Vandy had a flashy 1,114 total in that one) and Maryville and a loss to hot-shooting UMES, the Commodores inserted Jennifer Loredo and Amanda Naujokas into the lineup for the freshmen Ballard and Varano.

That lineup faced Southland power Louisiana Tech and fans expected a typical hard-fought tussle. That proved not to be as the Lady Techsters were decidedly off their game. Vandy broke the contest open with a 248-159 romp in Game 4 and won 996-894.

After two games in the day’s finale with Texas Southern, Vanderbilt went with a unit of Kaylee Hitt, Amelia Kiefer, Naujokas, Thesier and Cummins. That quintet essentially held the status quo and Vandy rolled, 969-891.

The Commodores will face Daemen, Tulane, Prairie View, host Mount St. Mary’s and Newman in traditional games Monday. A quality livestream is found on (fee required) with play scheduled to begin at 11:55 am CT.