Vanderbilt Wins Warhawk Classic

The victory was the program’s 50th tournament championship

by Rod Williamson

MADISON, Wis. — Vanderbilt easily won the Warhawk Classic Sunday, the 50th tournament championship in program history, as the Commodores finished the three-day event with a 13-1 record and 634-pin count advantage over second place Wisconsin-Whitewater.  Pin count determined the final standings.

Vandy captured its first three Baker matches Sunday, defeating Aurora and Elmhurst by wide margins with a rotation of Kailee Channell, Alyssa Ballard, Amanda Naujokas, Caroline Thesier and Paige Peters.

The Dores then reloaded with a unit of Haley Lindley, Kaylee Hitt, Natalie Kent, Victoria Varano and Peters and topped Augustana but stumbled in the finale to the host Warhawks.

Vanderbilt squandered a 12-pin lead heading into the fifth and final Baker in that match, losing the deciding game, 234-184, as Whitewater closed with five straight strikes before an 8-count fill ball. The match was still up for grabs in the ninth when Varano left a tough 6-7-10 split that opened the way for the 20th-ranked Warhawks.

The Commodores were not as crisp Sunday as they had been in the prior two days. The long strike strings of Saturday faded into spares and occasional opens as Vandy didn’t control the pocket as it had previously. With the exception of the exciting finish, the Dores also appeared to compete without as much overall energy and emotion.

“There were a lot of good things to take away from this weekend, and we found our areas for improvement moving forward,” head coach John Williamson said. “I think this team has a lot of potential of what they can accomplish this season.”

Vanderbilt will face much stiffer competition next weekend, traveling to Sacred Heart’s Destination Orlando tournament in Florida, an event that will draw several of the nation’s strongest teams.