Jan. 27, 2013
READING, Pa. - Those who believe in the old sports maxim that claims it is difficult to beat a good team twice were proven correct on this Sunday in which Vanderbilt beat No. 2 rated Maryland-Eastern Shore in the semi-final of the Kutztown Invitational, only to see the Hawks claw their way through the loser's bracket and top the No. 3 ranked Commodores in the championship match.
Vanderbilt won the day's first showdown, 4 games to 2, handing the Hawks their only loss of the weekend. UMES was then ushered into a dogfight with Norfolk State and escaped with a 4-3 win in which NSU could have won in the final game's tenth frame.
While this drama as unfolding, Vanderbilt, with its automatic berth in the finals, was bowling last-place Salem, a formatting mismatch that is designed in collegiate bowling tournaments to allow the winner of the semifinal the opportunity to stay occupied rather than sit and watch others.
When the two national powers met again about two hours later, it seemed the hunted had become the hunter as the Hawks prevailed, 4-1.
"We took a major step by getting to compete for a championship, the first time for many on our team," said Coach John Williamson. "The next time we get the chance hopefully we will seize the win. I thought the difference between the first game with UMES and the last was we were unable to keep our intensity with that Salem "lull" while UMES went seven hard games to make the final."
Williamson said the soft second game was also a new experience for his green team and "we sort of relaxed and then had to sit and watch for quite some time as the Norfolk-UMES game went on."
In the opening win, UMES had a perfect 300 game but Vanderbilt held its poise. "We were focusing on our game, what we could control," Williamson said, "and we didn't let their 300 shake us. We were executing, making shots."
Vanderbilt's lineup for the final five games consisted of three freshmen, a sophomore and one senior in stark contrast to the Hawks' vastly more experienced and well-traveled team. What could potentially bode well in the future didn't pay dividends in the present.
The Commodores used a lineup of Natalie Goodman, Kim Carper, Tori Ferris, Robyn Renslow and Jessica Earnest in the first match, then did some substituting against Salem and came back with Amanda Fry in Carper's slot.
"Kim did everything we asked of her, it wasn't about her," Williamson said of his switch. "We thought the left side had a good look to it and Amanda looked to be on when she had her chance. It just came down to thinking Amanda was our best option at the moment."
There was no quit in the Commodores. Trailing 3-1 and down about 45 pins in the latter stages of Game 5, rather than go through the motions the `Dores staged a nice rally that forced UMES to make shots in the last two frames rather than coast home.
The post-tournament awards presentations included Vanderbilt's Earnest winning her first Most Valuable Player trophy after Saturday's outstanding 236 average over six games and Renslow getting on the all-tournament team by placing third overall, knocking down 1,300 pins in six games.
In addition to his two stalwarts here, Williamson said the thought Goodman and Ferris had good Sundays.
The Black and Gold left Heister Lanes heading for Baltimore's airport with a weekend mark of 11-4.
Next week Vanderbilt travels to the Dallas suburb of Arlington for Prairie View A & M's tournament, held in the USBC's Training and Research Center. That event will be streamed by bowl.com.