Vanderbilt Jumps into Second on Day 2

Paige Peters is third and Alyssa Ballard is fourth in the individual rankings

by Rod Williamson

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — A much sharper Vanderbilt faced three top-10 tests Tuesday and passed two with flying colors as the Commodores won four of their five team matches at the Stormin’ Blue & White Vegas Classic.

As a result of improved pin count, Vanderbilt bolted from an opening day sixth place into second and will have a quick rematch with top seed Jacksonville State Wednesday morning. No. 3 Nebraska and No. 4 Duquesne will meet in the other side of the best-of-four bracket.

The Commodores began their day by losing to tenth-ranked Maryville, 1,011-965, in a match much closer than the final tally would indicate. From that point on it was all good for the Dores.

Vanderbilt downed No. 1 ranked Jacksonville State in convincing fashion, 1,092-1,016, behind Paige Peters’ brilliant 279 and Alyssa Ballard’s solid 238. The Dores blew by unranked Southern before defeating ninth-rated Stephen F. Austin 1,024-979.  A win over St. Anselm ended the afternoon with four Dores going over 200.

“We got better as the day went on,” head coach John Williamson said. “We competed a lot better and that was nice to see. We have to clean up a few physical things that are limiting us but otherwise it was a good day.”

Vandy’s win over Jacksonville State was arguably the day’s premier match, based upon their one-two stature. Using a rotation it would use nearly the entire day of Haley Lindley, Ballard, Amanda Naujokas, Victoria Varano and Peters, the Dores jumped out early, leading by 22 pins after four frames and swelling the margin to 78 by the eighth.

The Commodores got that mighty boost from the All-American Peters, who began the game with two routine spares before rattling off 10 straight bullseyes. Vandy also had its best spare shooting game of the day with just one missed-makeable and three total opens.

Spare shooting was still below Vanderbilt’s customary standard; missed-makeables and some untimely splits helped keep the Ladyjacks close for a while. Peters’ 230 led the way, but she had solid help from Ballard (217) and Lindley (211).

The Maryville match was close through nine, but a combination of Saints’ strikes and Vandy’s sloppiness in the 10th created a deceiving final score.

Ballard and Peters spent much of the day near the top of the individual leaderboard. Ballard went 209-238-226-217-201 while Peters was 175-279-184-230 and 219. Peters ended up third individually with a 219.4 average and Ballard was six pins back in fourth at 218.2.

Due to yesterday’s rocky start, Commodore faithful were kept in suspense the entire day as they nervously glanced at the leaderboard, hoping their charges could get into the upper echelons where they would have a chance at competing for the tournament title.

Bracket play to decide the tournament will begin at 10:00 a.m. CST Wednesday, streamed on BowlTV.