ORLANDO, FLA—On a sad and shocking day in Commodore Nation, Vanderbilt’s bowlers won three of five games at the Sunshine State Classic and found themselves in second place heading into the second day of competition. Nebraska leads the tourney based on total pin fall.
The Commodores were midway through their games when word came that former Director of Athletics David Williams had died unexpectedly back in Nashville, news that stunned Vanderbilt coaches John Williamson and Josie Barnes.
“We are all crushed by this news,” Williamson said. “It was David’s vision that started this program back in 2004 and he took a big chance on hiring me as the coach. I had a very thin bowling resume at that time and I will always be grateful for the career opportunity he afforded me. He was a tremendous ally and partner through the years and I hope our teams made him proud. Our hearts go out to his wife Gail and the children.”
The bowling news feels secondary on this day. The Commodores, now ranked No. 2 nationally, defeated No. 3 Nebraska in a quality opening match, 1,040-1,020. Vandy jumped out to a hefty lead after two of the five Baker games and held off the Huskers late charge with the help of a Maria Bulanova double in the 10th frame of Game 5.
Sacred Heart was next and the Pioneers were sizzling, winning the match, 1,073-989. Vanderbilt then downed 9th ranked Tulane, lost to Southland Bowling League rival Stephen F. Austin and ended the afternoon topping Prairie View, 1,064-830 –the Commodores’ highest pin count of the day.
“I told the girls halfway through that this was reminding me of Kutztown,” Williamson said. “We were coming off a very good effort on tougher lanes at Arkansas and never got it going at Kutztown. This felt the same way; an easier shot than last week but we have to stay more focused, execute and don’t take anything for granted.
“We had one open in 50 frames against Nebraska,” Williamson continued, “and 34 the last four matches – 15 of them missed-makeables. If we do a better job with focus the results will take care of themselves.”
Vanderbilt began with a lineup of Emily Rigney, Adel Wahner, Jordan Newham, Samantha Gainor and Bulanova. That was modified in the third game when Bryanna Leyen came in for Gainor and changed again for the last match when Angelique Dalesandro was inserted into the rotation for Newham.
Once again Bulanova was the dominant figure in the rotation.
“Maria was really good again today,” Williamson said. “She had a lot of doubles and triples, especially in that midway stretch when we were subpar and were trying to stay afloat.”
Nebraska knocked down 5,081 pins, 52 more than Vanderbilt and co-host Stephen F. Austin was third at 4,944.
Five traditional games are on tap Saturday beginning at 7:25 a.m. CT. All matches are live streamed on VandyBowling’s YouTube page.