JONESBORO, AR—Vanderbilt Coach John Williamson insists there’s no secret to how his team has dominated the first two days of the Mid-Winter Classic.
The Commodores went unbeaten for the second consecutive day, topping four unranked opponents before thumping No. 1 ranked McKendree by 79 pins in the afternoon’s finale. They will carry the top seed into Sunday’s best-of-seven championship bracket and will play host Arkansas State at 8:30 a.m. (CST) with the winner advancing to the title match.
“Right now we are throwing the ball well and making quality first shots,” Williamson says. “The Jonesboro facility is tricky – it plays difficult and without a quality first shot it’s easy to leave a lot of crazy things.”
The Commodores had 17 missed makeable spares Saturday and 10 of those were single pins, evidence that they left very few “crazy” leaves.
Whereas Friday’s schedule saw Vanderbilt pushed in facing four ranked opponents, Saturday’s agenda was less strenuous before an interesting matchup with McKendree – a repeat of last year’s NCAA finalists. The Dores easily handled Alabama A&M, Lincoln, Texas Southern and UAB – the Blazer’s only loss in the tournament – before the “position round” – which paired the two top teams based on pin count from the tournament’s two divisions.
Vandy had control of the McKendree match most of the game, gradually stretching out a slim lead into a comfortable one and aided by a four-bagger by Kristin Quah midway through.
Vanderbilt used a multitude of lineups during the day for a variety of reasons. For example, the senior Quah, who had a spectacular fall campaign, didn’t even play in the first two games as she manages a pesky wrist issue. Inserted into the fray in the third game, Quah responded with games of 223-199-213 for a sturdy 211.67 average.
Freshman Angelique Dalesandro was in the rotation the first three games and contributed two flashy results (233-237) before fading in Game 3. Adel Wahner and Maria Bulanova were the only Commodores to play all five games; Wahner averaged 202.4 on lanes where the vast majority of competitors were stymied in minus territory (less than 200 average).
Note to fans: The host facility has a weak and uneven WIFI signal that much of the time has made live streaming all but useless. Attempts to stream will continue on either Vanderbilt’s YouTube or Facebook pages.