Dores Down at Conference Championships – Vanderbilt University Track and Field – Official Track and Field Website

ROWLETT, Texas — Vanderbilt lost a tense 4-hour mega game to Sam Houston State in the second round of the Southland Bowling League Championship on Friday, putting the Commodores in the loser’s bracket of this double-elimination event.

Unusually sloppy spare kicks were the easily identifiable culprits in the 2-1 defeat. Vandy lost the traditional game, winning the 5-game baker set and losing 4-3 in the best-of-seven tiebreaker to the late Bearkats, who just a week ago won Vanderbilt’s Music City Classic.

Vanderbilt, the two-time defending conference champion, now faces a tough task at sixth-ranked Youngstown State at 8:30 am Saturday with the losing team facing elimination. Arkansas State faces Sam Houston in a winners’ bracket matchup.

“We didn’t hit our first few shots well and that too often left us with more difficult backup conversions,” head coach John Williamson said. “We had 20 failed elements, which are not us. We started the day a bit nervous and I don’t think we ever got comfortable. We still have a chance to do what we came here to do; we need to forget some of the things that happened today. We need to be aggressive, not passive.”

The No. 1 seed Commodores had eliminated eighth-seeded Valparaiso 2-0 in the first round and were looking strong in the process. They used their late-season rotation of Amanda Naujokas, Alyssa Ballard, Caroline Thesier, Victoria Varano and Mabel Cummins to pull off comfortable wins.

But the consolation faded in the afternoon when Sam Houston, who seemed less stressed by his underdog role, won the traditional opening game, 1,010-978. For much of the next series of Bakers, the left lane looked difficult to navigate. In game two, for example, the Commodores finished with six starts in their last seven frames, the last five in a row! It was an ironic situation since, statistically, Vanderbilt led the SBL in all categories of team spare shots during the regular season.

Fighting valiantly to avoid the underdog bracket, just 30 minutes later Vandy scored exactly 100 more pints in the same lane to win 237-215 to complete a back-and-forth fight and take the point.

That set up the best of seven. Vandy won the first game and seemingly gave away Game 2 with three misses to lose, 173-172. After winning the third game, Vandy again finished with three starts to square the match at 2-2. Certainly, one could argue that it could have been 4-0 or better, but in this tough league against quality opponents, ‘could have’ is not enough.

The Dores were down 3-2 and things looked bleak when in game six, Vandy once again suffered three consecutive starts, two of which failed. However, Vanderbilt reached deep and finished with six straight shots to even the match at 3-3.

Sam Houston started Game 7 with a 3-pointer and while the Bearkats faltered a bit later in the game, a couple of wide starts proved too much for Vanderbilt to overcome, trailing 194-191.

Vanderbilt’s Paige Peters was inserted into Thesier’s rotation four best-of-seven games. The sophomore, last year’s National Rookie of the Year, has been hampered by left knee pain that has limited practice and playing time for her.

Before the day’s action began, Cummins was honored as the SBL Bowler of the Year and Ballard as the Newcomer of the Year, the awards being the result of a vote by the head coaches.

The games are broadcast on Vanderbilt’s sports site on YouTube and on Inside Bowling YouTube.


Leave a Reply