LAS VEGAS — A seldom-played junior and a freshman helped propel Vanderbilt into the third round of the NCAA Championship on Friday, an elimination-round showdown with Nebraska for the right to bowl Arkansas State for the national championship.
Jennifer Loredo, a junior bowling circuit star who had to patiently wait for her chance on Vanderbilt’s talented roster, and Victoria Varano, just named honorable mention All-America a day earlier, were the catalysts behind the Commodores second round 2-0 victory over defending champion and top-seeded McKendree. Vandy had lost its opening match to hot-shooting Arkansas State in this double-elimination format.
Led by Loredo’s 233 and Varano’s clutch strike throwing, Vanderbilt mounted a come-from-behind traditional game mega-match point,1,075-1,049 gem and then used a powerful opening 258 in the 5-game Baker set to seize a big lead it never relinquished to put the victory on ice.
“I’m really proud of the resiliency of this group,” Vandy head coach John Williamson said. “This morning was less than ideal and we knew from the beginning that McKendree was going to put up a fight. We had an epic match last year in a Saturday morning elimination match and we knew what was at stake.
“I was proud of our girls for stepping up and making quality shots over the vast majority of the game.”
Loredo is the team’s only left-handed bowler and that combined with her junior bowling successes in the South Point Bowling Plaza are significant factors in the decision to pluck her from the settee where she has basically resided the vast majority of the year. South Point is a facility known for being user-friendly to southpaws.
“Jennifer hasn’t played a lot all season but the one thing she’s done is work very hard,” Williamson said. “She goes into our Rec Center and practices on her own almost every day. She is very familiar with this place, she’s had a lot of success here so she’s confident in what she does. She’s high energy and making quality shots was our hope when we moved her into the lead off spot.”
After nailing seven strikes—including five in a row at one point—in her traditional game 233, Loredo began the deciding baker series by converting a difficult split for an energizing spare, then chipped in with five strikes during the rest of the match.
“I think we kept our heads up the entire time and continued to keep the hammer down the entire time,” Loredo said. “I feel that…