KENOSHA, WI—Vanderbilt notched two more victories against defending national champion McKendree but dropped a game to tournament champion Arkansas State to finish third Sunday at the Warhawk Classic.
“It was an uplifting tournament in the sense that it came after one of our poorest performances (8th at Kat Klash) in a long time,” said Head Coach John Williamson. “It was good to see us rebound and there were a lot more positives than negatives.”
Among the positives was the splendid performance of sophomore All-American Maria Bulanova, who won her first college individual championship and was named the tournament Most Valuable Player.
“The pattern was a lot easier at this tournament and it gave me a lot of room to miss,” she said. “I had a lot of confidence and it allowed me to execute my shots better.”
The Moscow native said she was aware of her standing throughout the tournament. She noted that she felt she could score big numbers every game under the conditions.
“They had the scores running on the video boards and they were updating them quickly,” Bulanova said. “And unfortunately I do peek at the standings. But I had a really good line and I just had to execute; I just bowled.”
Among the other positives was the return to last spring’s form of Emily Rigney, who bowled leadoff, was 14th individually (205.60 ave.) and often got her teammates off to a good start. Add in the steady play of freshmen Samantha Gainor, who bowled steady and was 15th individually with a 205.20 average; classmate Kelsey Abrahamsen in her debut tournament and Jordan Newham’s solid Baker play in the 4-hole.
The Commodores opened their day against fourth-seeded McKendree and were in a see-saw match — each team winning on the left-side lane. With the edge in seeding, Vandy naturally chose the left side and blew the game open with seven strikes to close.
Arkansas State was next and Vandy’s play was subpar. There were two opens in one loss of 14 pins and another missed makeable in an 11-pin defeat. At that point, the potent Red Wolves got hot and cruised to two more wins and a 4-0 sweep.
McKendree and Vanderbilt were matched up in the consolation championship and after spotting the Bearcats the first game, the ‘Dores came back to grab a 3-1 lead. VU lost Game 5 but won, 197-175, in Game 6 for the victory.
Vandy will hit the road next week for the fourth consecutive weekend at the Maryland-Eastern Shore Hawk Classic — an event that the Commodores have won more than any other team.