LINCOLN, Neb. — Vanderbilt found itself in second place after an unusual first day of competition at Nebraska’s Big Red Invite.
Vandy trails only Arkansas State in the 11-team field that features the nation’s top four rated programs.
The second-ranked Commodores won just one of their five matches – unusual in and of itself. But their lone victory came in the day’s marquee match with No. 1-rated McKendree.
And adding to the uniqueness, Vandy’s opponents in its four losing contests averaged 1,122.75 pins in the 5-game Baker matches, perhaps 125 pins more than what might be considered normal.
“We bowled pretty well but we ran into good teams bowling very well,” Vanderbilt coach John Williamson said afterward. “We were too often the ones on the ropes getting punched rather than the ones doing the punching. We made some ill-timed mistakes that took the pressure off our opponents and at times the mistakes cost us dearly.”
Noting the high scores, Williamson said the shot was “soft” and the pins on the pin deck, “liked to spin so there was a lot of carry.”
After getting blitzed by Maryville, Central Missouri and Arkansas State, respectively, to open the tournament 0-3, snapping the skid against McKendree seemed a tall order.
As it often does when things are off-kilter, Vanderbilt changed up its rotation. The Dores had begun the day with Angelica Anthony, Jennifer Loredo, Caroline Thesier, Samantha Gainor and Mabel Cummins but transitioned to Anthony, Gainor, Angelique Dalesandro, Thesier and Cummins in the year’s first meeting with McKendree.
That quintet lasted just a game before Amanda Naujokas went in for Gainor. Two games later Loredo replaced Naujokas as the Commodores worked hard to expand their lead over the Bearcats, closing with games of 221-223-233-265.
“We generally like to let people work things out in a match but we felt we were running out of time to get things moving,” Williamson said. “Jenn was all over the place at the start of the day but we thought the break would settle her down. She did a good job when she got back in.”
Williamson singled out the outstanding leadoff performance by Anthony, who made 33 strikes in 50 frames (a 66 percent clip).
“Angelica was very good today,” he said. “We thought she got comfortable a few weeks ago in Dallas where she was aggressive and confident. That carried over today and she gave us a big lift.”
Vandy hoped the momentum of the McKendree win would carry over for the final against No. 4 ranked Nebraska. At a glance, the Dores’ 1,105 pins would seem to be enough but the Huskers knocked down 1,206 – rare scoring territory in NCAA bowling.
It is possible that never in program history has Vandy topped the 1,100 pin mark and lost the match.
Williamson was not overly concerned with how things shook out won-loss wise, saying, “if we bowl like we are capable of bowling we’re going to be just fine.”
Five traditional team games begin at 9:10 a.m. Saturday. All matches are streamed on Vandy bowling’s YouTube channel.