ARLINGTON, TX — Vanderbilt’s rally from 64 pins down to defeat fourth ranked Nebraska highlighted the Commodores highly successful first day at the Prairie View Invitational Friday.
Vanderbilt was just six pins from another unbeaten opening day, defeating four quality teams while racking up enough total pin fall to lead the standings in this star-studded field.
The third-ranked Commodores downed host Prairie View, Youngstown State, Nebraska and Sam Houston while being edged out, 1,048-1,042 by Arkansas State.
While most tournaments Vanderbilt attends has its share of highly rated opponents, what sets the Prairie View event apart is that there are only 12 teams invited and nine are in the Top 10. There are no breathers on a given day’s menu.
“With a field this strong, you have to show up every round,” head coach John Williamson said. “You have to get over success and adversity quickly; there’s no time to gloat. If you start slowly you can dig a hole you can’t overcome.”
Vandy averaged a hefty 1,042.8 over its 5, 5-game baker sets and among the reasons was the powerful production it got from the middle of its rotation. Victoria Varano, Paige Peters and Caroline Thesier were frame-filling, often strike machines, setting up anchor Mabel Cummins game after game to close it out with her typical clutch play.
“Paige and Caroline were really good today and Tori came on strong,” Williamson said. “They made Mabel’s day a lot easier – she averaged over 230 today and you will win a lot of matches when your anchor is putting up that kind of production.”
“We were really pleased with Paige’s day,” Williamson continued. “We made some adjustments from last week and it required that she trusted us to put her in the right spots.”
The Nebraska match would be one to promote as an example of elite NCAA bowling. The Huskers, who defeated Vandy just five days ago to win the Northeast Classic, started on fire with scores of 237-205 and 248, putting the Commodores in a 64-pin hole after three games.
However, Vandy was not intimidated by the Big Red barrage and came back in the fourth baker by getting the front seven in route to a 258 to cut the deficit to 20. Nebraska had lane choice based on owing the lead and chose to stay put on lanes Vandy had just prevailed on, 258-205.
The Commodores closed with five clutch strikes in a row to nip the Huskers in the highest scoring match of the day, 1,117-1,109.
“From a confidence standpoint, today’s matches show that what matters is what we do, not what our opponents do,” Williamson said. “If we perform like we are capable of we are very hard to beat; if we don’t, we’re just like everyone else.”
Vandy made just one substitution during the day, changing out starting leadoff bowler Alyssa Ballard for Amanda Naujokas one game into the Nebraska match.
The tournament continues Saturday beginning at 9:25 CT and is streamed live on bowltv.com. The tournament is a complete round-robin so Vanderbilt will meet five new foes; the 11th round robin game will occur Sunday before bracket play starts.