April 11, 2014
Championship Central | Updated NCAA Bracket
Goodbyes are no fun. Most folks hate `em.
Losing isn't a barrel of chuckles either, not when a team has worked for and dreamed of a goal that will go unfulfilled.
Vanderbilt bid adieu to the 2014 NCAA Bowling Championship Friday evening, 30 hours sooner that it had hoped to after losing to Nebraska, beating Central Missouri and getting taken to the woodshed by a red-hot Wisconsin-Whitewater in the double-elimination format.
If bowling as a college sport is misunderstood as a child's game or for the late shift at the plant, there is no way to emphasize with the idiosyncrasies of the national championship. It is about a third physical skill, a third mental focus and a third flat out luck.
You can't play defense so the luck of the draw can pit you against a team bowling well below their average or a team performing well over their head. It's the nature of the game and what makes it both fascinating and maddening.
Winning teams have a combination of all three components because you can't win this tournament without those three amigos.
The Commodores had their chances against Nebraska in the day's first match, a rematch of last year's title contest. They won the first game in the best of seven Bakers, then the teams traded wins on the left lane until it was knotted at three games all.
The 'Dores actually had a shot at winning on the right lane in Game 6 but a sub-par second half of the game proved costly. Vanderbilt as the higher seed had lane choice and naturally took the left side but then its slow start combined with Husker strikes was fatal.
There is little time to lick your wounds and soon Vandy was paired with Central Missouri in an elimination situation. The Black and Gold responded well, winning 4-0 by comfortable margins using a line-up of Nicole Mosesso, Natalie Goodman, Amanda Fry, Tori Ferris and Robyn Renslow.
The schedule broke for two hours. The Warhawks of Wisconsin-Whitewater were next, a dangerous, senior-laden team that had to sweat out an invitation to the tournament a few weeks back. Whether they were trying to prove a point of their worth, they began by throwing chains of strikes, which seemed to put the Commodores on their heels in every game. It was over quickly, brutally fast if you were pulling for the Commodores.
March Madness had little on this tournament for uncertainty. Saturday night's televised finals will pit No. 8 seeded Sam Houston State against Nebraska, who after escaping Vandy's attempt edged by No. 2 seeded Arkansas State and then Whitewater. Sam Houston surprisingly took out No. 1 seeded Maryland-Eastern Shore twice to earn their chance under the lights.
For Vanderbilt, the upcoming weeks will be a chance for reflection. There were no seniors out there bowling, although fifth-year veteran Lauren Rhein's remarkable personality will be missed next year.
We remind readers that the attached Tournament Central web page carries all the scores and information.