GREENSBORO, N.C. — Vanderbilt took its three opponents to the bowling woodshed Sunday, successfully defending its Stallings Invitational championship title in a dominating fashion.
The Commodores figuratively turned the stingy AMF All Star Lanes into a romp with gutter bumpers, overwhelming Sam Houston State 4-0 in the championship match and averaging 239.25 (plus 157) in the process.
That had followed a 4-0 cruise past Maryland-Eastern Shore in the semifinal and an opening team game stroll past Tulane, improving the second-ranked Commodores mark in the tournament to 13-0 and season record to 83-23.
“We went into the day talking about finishing what we had started,” Vandy head coach John Williamson said, referring to the team’s huge pin count lead in qualifying.
“We were making good shots. The energy in the settee was good and we fed off each other. Things snowballed. I thought everyone was strong, we didn’t have any weak spots.”
Over a complicated oil pattern that earned the respect of the 12-team field all weekend, Vanderbilt exploded in the title match with scores of 243, 231, 215 and 268, leaving a talented Bearkat team in its wake.
The rotation of Amanda Naujokas, Alyssa Ballard, Victoria Varano, Caroline Thesier and Mabel Cummins were striking machines, twice nailing six in a row and ending with a scorching seven in a row.
Most of the baker games were decided before the 10th frame, giving Vandy coaches a welcome and stress-free chance to insert hard-working senior Amelia Kiefer into the 10th frame five times.
Entering the day, Vandy coaches felt that spare shooting would play an important role in the eventual outcome. They need not have been concerned. The Dores had but one open in the championship match and just two in the semis, the result of splits.
“We were making quality first shots,” Williamson said, “and for the most part we were not forced to convert difficult spares. Good first shots and good spare shooting feeds off each other.”
Cummins won the individual title for the second tournament in a row with a line of 213-234-223-194-191 and 207. She has been at her collegiate career best since moving back into the anchor position earlier this spring.
Varano finished fifth individually, making an all-tournament for the third time in her young college career. The New Jersey freshman had scores of 204-221-181-224-188 and 178.
Naujokas was not in the lineup for Saturday’s first game or she would have been an…
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