Vanderbilt Moves Up the Leaderboard on Day 2

Paige Peters finished second individually with a 239.8 scoring average

by Rod Williamson

ORLANDO, Fla. — Vanderbilt rode a near-school record effort by Paige Peters and on occasion even a freshman “comet” to a No. 3 seed as play continued Saturday at the Destination Orlando tournament.

The Commodores once again won three of five matches but, more importantly, climbed the leaderboard with major pin counts to trail only Stephen F. Austin and Jacksonville State in this 18-team field. Vanderbilt will face Youngstown in the first of three championship bracket Baker matches Sunday. Youngstown State grabbed the fourth seed.

Vandy defeated sixth-ranked Youngstown State, Delaware State and UAB while dropping scrappy matches to Jacksonville State and unranked Emmanuel, whose winning 1,059 was 129 pins higher than its day’s average.

Peters, the two-time All-American coming off an injury-plagued sophomore season, averaged 239.8 over the five games, the third-best day in program history. She strung games of 227, 268, 225, 246 and 233 over the uncomplicated Sky Lanes pattern.  The school record for five traditional games is 243.8 by Maria Bulanova in 2019; Giselle Poss averaged 240.8 in 2017.

The “comet” was Haley Lindley, a freshman in her second collegiate tournament. The South Carolina product ran off scores of 245, 200, 227, 261 and 218 as leadoff in the Vandy rotation.

Peters finished second individually, narrowly being edged by Stephen F, Austin’s Juliana Kerrigan, who began her day with a 300, while Lindley was fourth.

“We were dramatically better today than we were yesterday,” associate head coach Josie Barnes said. “We had a few mental errors early but then we got it together.”

Barnes was obviously impressed by Peters and Lindley.

“Paige only had one open all day—a 7-10—and I don’t think she realized just how good she was bowling,” Barnes noted. “She made a slight move with her last fill ball and 5-counted, which cost her the individual championship. I blame myself for letting that happen.”

“What impressed me most about Haley’s day is that she didn’t let her early concerns about her spare-shooting impact her strike-shooting,” Barnes continued. “Sometimes that happens; we had a quick side conversation early on and after that she was remarkable. She’s spunky and we need that.”

The Commodores faced a veteran Jacksonville State, whose lineup features three graduate students and a senior, to start their day. Vanderbilt used a rotation of Lindley, Natalie Kent, Victoria Varano, Caroline Thesier and Peters.

Vandy held a small edge at the midway point, but the under-ranked Gamecocks eventually pulled away despite Haley’s 245 and Peters’ 227 efforts. The final was 1,043-1,014.

Vanderbilt then met another Conference USA foe in Youngstown State. The Commodores appeared to enjoy the lane’s big right to left ball pattern, especially Peters as she threw seven straight bingos at one point, making it all look so easy.

The Commodores blew out No. 22 Delaware State and UAB with scores over 1,100 as the lanes gave up strikes easily. Vandy’s 1,166 total against UAB equaled the program’s ninth-best traditional game in history while the rotation of Lindley, Alyssa Ballard, Varano, Thesier and Peters all had long strike runs against Delaware State. Varano led the way with seven in her 257-pin game.

Play resumes Sunday at 7:30 a.m. CT, streamed live on the Vanderbilt Athletics YouTube site.