April 10, 2014
Williamson Interview | NCAA Bracket | Qualifying Results | Championship Central
WICKLIFFE, Ohio -- Vanderbilt persevered through an 11-hour day of qualifying to earn the No. 3 seed at the NCAA Bowling Championship and will face sixth-seed Nebraska in the first round of double-elimination Friday.
The Commodores went 4-3 over the grueling day, topping Nebraska, Wisconsin-Whitewater, Central Missouri and Fairleigh Dickinson while losing to eventual first and second seeds Maryland-Eastern Shore and Arkansas State and eighth-seed Sam Houston State in traditional team game play.
The Commodores got tremendous production from sophomore anchor Robyn Renslow, who didn't have a game under 200 and was among the top three individuals all day.
They also got a major boost from Tori Ferris, another sophomore, who wasn't in the lineup for the first game but got in soon and had four, 200-plus games and one 198 for remarkable consistency.
Even for the familiar, qualifying day is a puzzle. Teams expend mental and physical energy in the time-honored manner bowling puts its championship bracket into place but at day's end it is next to impossible to handicap what will happen the next day.
Years ago, teams battled over every pin on this day but several years ago, Vanderbilt Coach John Williamson noticed that often times the lower seeds would beat the top seeds on elimination day. He began taking a slightly different approach, being more concerned about having his team in the proper mental frame of mind for Day 2 by taking an edge off the emphasis of qualifying.
Today the strategy seemed to pay off once again with a solid seed and good outlook.
"We probably were a little too low at some points today," Ferris said afterwards, "but we were trying to stay on an even keel and trying not to get overly excited, although the last game (FDU) we did get into it more."
Ferris, drawing from her experience a year ago when she saw considerable action as a freshman playing in the championship match, looked all the part of a veteran. "I was ready to go from the start of practice whenever coach needed me, the soft-spoken Kalamazoo product said. "I knew what a great experience it was last year and I just wanted to help the team. I knew my teammates had my back. We have all put in a lot of work in practice so there was nothing to be nervous about. It took a little bit of time for me to get focused but once I was I remembered the feeling from last year."
Renslow, named a second-team All-American just 24 hours earlier, picked up where she left off at the last tournament of the year and was dominating.
"It was phenomenal out there," Renslow said. "I've been in kind of a rough patch lately and from the start of the tournament it was almost as though I hadn't been. I just was in time; it helped slowing down and listening to the coaches.
Friday's elimination play switches from team games to Baker format and the best-of-seven set-up also plays havoc with prognosticators. The top-seed has won this event just twice in its history as in Baker play anyone here can and has beaten everyone else.
Vanderbilt has eight bowlers authorized for this competition and everyone saw action Thursday, although captain Nicole Chanin was in to complete Renslow's final tenth frame.
Amanda Fry, let another sophomore, had one of her better days this season with games of 207-190-203. Other Commodores experienced the normal ups and downs common at this event.
Friday's play will be live-streamed on ncaa.com and begins at 10:30 CDT.
This report will not include statistics. They are found on the Mid-American Conference's excellent tournament central page, mac-sports.com. Immediately following all games, results will also be posted on Twitter, @VandyBowling.