KENOSHA, Wisconsin — Adel Wahner and Amelia Kiefer came off the bench with two games left to help ignite a powerful Vanderbilt rally that culminated in a 3-2 record after the first day of the Ladyjack Hammer Classic.
As a result, the Commodores vaulted from the middle of the 15-team pack into second place heading into Saturday’s five team games. Sam Houston State has an 11-pin lead over Vanderbilt.
Vandy’s wins came against Maryville, No. 23 Youngstown State and fourth-ranked Nebraska – the latter two games came on the heels of photo-finish losses to second-ranked McKendree (921-920) and No. 5 Arkansas State (977-973).
Vanderbilt head coach John Williamson said the Commodores had a, “frank discussion,” after muddling through the first three games.
“We have an older group and as coaches we try to let them handle their own business much of the time,” Williamson said. “But after those first three games it was time to talk about competing and not just going through the motions. It felt like a continuation of our last tournament. We are not good enough to just show up.
“Those last two games we executed pretty good, eliminating unforced errors and making better shots. The lanes didn’t get any easier.”
The Youngstown (1,079 pins) and Nebraska (1,120) games generated 2,199 pins and while Wahner and Kiefer were shining in the top two spots in the order, Mabel Cummins and Maria Bulanova were lights out while Samantha Gainor did an excellent job setting the stage for Bulanova’s fireworks from her fourth spot in the rotation.
Cummins, the heralded freshman bowling in the three-hole, had six strikes and four spares against Youngstown and was a perfect 10-for-10 against the Huskers.
Bulanova, the reigning NCAA Player of the Year, pounded the strike zone for 28 strikes (in 40 possible throws) in those games from her anchor spot after mixed success in the earlier games. Anchor bowlers have an outsized impact on team scores, especially in Baker play so Maria’s torrid play was significant.
Wahner came in to throw nine strikes and eight spares over two games while Kiefer added eight strikes and eight spares.
Arkansas State, McKendree and Nebraska are the same teams Vandy beat back-to-back in the NCAA consolation bracket last April to advance into the championship match. Poor spare shooting prevented a similar sweep Friday as neither ASU, McKendree or the Commodores had their A-Games going when they were head-to-head.
While Vanderbilt grabbed an 84-pin lead after the first game of the 5-Game Baker set against Nebraska, it struggled through both the McKendree and Arkansas State games with poor spare shooting the primary culprit.
Vanderbilt caught a lucky break in its win over Maryville when the Saints’ anchor fouled during a strike run in the 10th frame letting the Dores escape with a 960-947 win.
The 1,120 pin total against Nebraska ranks 15th in Vanderbilt’s record book.
Play is scheduled to resume at 9:25 a.m. Saturday at the Sheridan Lanes.