NCAA Bowling

Vanderbilt Falls in Regional Final

Vanderbilt Falls in Regional Final

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Similar to last season, Vanderbilt’s bowling season came to an end Saturday against Arkansas State with one significant difference. Unlike last year when the Commodores defeated ASU to win the national championship, this year the tables were turned and Vanderbilt lost to the Red Wolves in the regional finals by a 21 mega match score.

After being upset in Friday’s opening round, the Commodores refused to go gently into the cool Rochester night. Vanderbilt downed a spirited Merrimack outfit that had high aspirations of its own in Saturday’s morning elimination match, winning both mega-match points to advance to the regional championship with the top-seeded Red Wolves.

Arkansas State’s score sheet was rich in doubles and turkeys in pulling away in the traditional game, winning 1,058-975. The Red Wolves had an early stretch of 10 strikes in a row to seize a 42-pin lead after five frames and were never seriously threatened despite Paige Peters’ 211 and 210s by Haley Lindley and Victoria Varano.

But Vanderbilt dug deep and exploded in the first game of the five-game Baker set. The Commodores, using a rotation of Peters, Natalie Kent, Amanda Naujokas, Lindley and Varano, began with the front seven and led by 60 pins after posting a 233. The Dores led the entire way, although the lead varied from as few as 13 pins to as many as 77. The right lane was more user friendly and that would play a role later in the match.

Peters was exceptional in this series and the Bowl-A-Roll facility thundered with a partisan local group cheering for Vandy’s lineup, which included three native New Yorkers—Naujokas, Varano, and especially the nearby product, Kent.

With a 1,042-999 win in the Baker set, the mega-match moved to the best of seven baker tiebreaker. Vanderbilt jumped out quickly to grab a 1-0 lead despite three open frames, which soon became a harbinger of trouble. Vandy suffered three early open frames and could only muster 169 pins in Game 2, and it never got much better as it had 13 opens in the five games. The 4-1 defeat ended Vanderbilt’s season and moved Arkansas State into next week’s Final Four.

Vanderbilt head coach John Williamson explained how he saw the pivotal game unfold.

“The lanes transitioned,” he said. “We thought the right lane was better than the left lane, although we also thought the left lane was not as bad as both teams were playing it, it was more mental. We won Game 1 in the best of seven,…

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