EGG HARBOR, N.J.—Vanderbilt earned the No. 1 seed Saturday at the Hawk Flight Invite and will square off against Southland Bowling League rival Sam Houston State in a quick rematch in Sunday’s bracket opener.
The Commodores once again won four of their five matches, beating three Top 10 opponents and host Monmouth before a slow start doomed the victory chances against No. 10 North Carolina A & T in the day’s finale. The ranked victims included Sam Houston (5), Fairleigh Dickinson (8) and Maryland Eastern Shore (6).
Vandy earned the top seed on the basis on total pin fall and will play the 2-seed Kats with the winner getting an automatic pass into the title game. Saint Francis University and Fairleigh Dickinson will square off on the other side of the championship top four bracket.
“We showed flashes of being pretty good,” said Coach John Williamson. “We avoided making many of the mistakes until that last game with A & T and in that match most of what we had been doing well disappeared.”
Saturday’s opening game was perhaps the most entertaining for Commodore fans. The talented Kats often matched Vanderbilt’s strike runs and the scoring was at a level one would expect from Top 5 rated programs.
Vanderbilt began the day with a rotation of Jordan Newham, Kristin Quah, Adel Wahner, Samantha Gainor and Maria Bulanova. Emily Rigney came in for Newham in the sixth and promptly ran off three straight strikes while Bryanna Leyen was inserted for Quah in the seventh and filled the remaining frames.
The bottom three in the rotation left a lasting impression. Wahner, a Junior Team USA member, threw strikes from the second through the seventh (six in a row) for a 248; Gainor actually topped that with a seven-bagger and a 256 and Bulanova chipped in a four-bagger of her own for a 215. Those powerful scores gave Vandy a 1,058-985 win.
Rigney’s front six and closing three produced a flashy leadoff 247 against UMES and some will remember Leyen’s difficult 6-7-10 conversion from the same game, followed immediately by a quality pickup by Wahner.
Vanderbilt dominated the individual standings, where 125 bowlers competed. Wahner averaged 214 to finish second to Sam Houston’s Hayley Connelly, who averaged 220. Gainor placed fourth at 210 and Bulanova was 10th at 201.40. It marked the best individual finishes for both Wahner and Gainor.
Vanderbilt’s coaches wanted to get all nine members of their travel party into the fray and did just that. Braeden Abrahamsen and Angelique Dalesandro saw considerable playing time late in the day.
The three, best of seven Baker games begin Sunday at 7:25 CT and are live streamed on Vanderbilt Bowling’s YouTube site.