LIMERICK, PA—As menacing northwest winds buffeted the Limerick Bowl, North Carolina A & T and Vanderbilt traded some bowling blows of their own before the Commodores finally prevailed and captured fifth place at the Kutztown Invitational.
The two teams actually played twice Sunday and both games followed similar scripts to an extent. In both games, Vanderbilt jumped out to commanding leads – 3-1 in the opener and 3-0 in the finale. The difference was that the Commodores botched the first game, losing 4-3, while in the game for fifth place, Vandy hung on to win, 4-2.
In between these two matches, Vanderbilt had defeated Youngstown State, 4-1, in the best of seven Baker games to earn a rematch with the 11th ranked Aggies.
The fifth place finish seemed a fair and reasonable ending for the disappointed Commodores, who never found their stride in this 28-team field and whose hallmark might have been inconsistency. Splits seemed Public Enemy #1 followed closely by the inability to put away opponents when the opportunities arose.
“It was a reversal of form for us,” said Coach John Williamson. “We had been having trouble striking the first two days and today we had more success with our first ball. But we did a poor job converting spares after we had just 19 missed-makeables during the first 10 games combined. We just gave some games away today.”
The Commodores began Sunday with an unusual rotation of Bryanna Leyen, Angelique Dalesandro, Jordan Newham, Emily Rigney and Maria Bulanova. That unit clicked early before an uncharacteristic rash of missed-makeable spares took their toll.
The lineup was modified before the Youngstown match to Rigney, Kristin Quah, Newham, Dalesandro and Bulanova and it stayed that way the rest of the way.
“We went with the five that had the best look,” Williamson said. “It was one of those tournaments where figuring out the lineup was not obvious.”
Newham was named to the all-tournament team, the third of her career, based upon her third place individual finish during Saturday’s team games.
Vanderbilt gets a much-needed break in its schedule before heading to Texas in two weeks for the Prairie View Invitational. It will carry a season mark of 46-17 into that event.