KENOSHA, Wisc. — Vanderbilt methodically fought his way through five opponents, including third-seeded Nebraska, to stay undefeated and retain second place in the team standings heading into Sunday’s final action at the Ladyjack Invitational.
McKendree leads the 14-team field based on total pins over two days of competition, 108 pins ahead of the Commodores. Vandy has a huge advantage over the third-place team, so he’s almost guaranteed to face McKendree in Sunday’s title match.
Saturday’s wins were mostly not as dynamic as Friday’s assault on the program’s record books, but there were still plenty of highlights.
The second-ranked Commodores sent Nebraska into the day’s final 1,078-1,038 behind a balanced and even formation in which all five Dores scored between 195 and 235 pins. Junior Caroline Thesier started with the top five and led the way with a 235 and rookie Alyssa Ballard capped off a spectacular day with a 225, overcoming back-to-back splits 7-10 in the process.
Ballard fashioned matches of 231-249-200-268 and 225 and won the individual championship in a highly competitive arena.
“Alyssa rehearsed her opening shots and executed about as well as she could,” Vanderbilt head coach John Williamson said. “What impressed me the most was that we made a change of ball after that 7-10 and she trusted it. She basically went off the sheet after that; it was nice to see her blood -coldness, her confidence – things you don’t necessarily see in a freshman.She didn’t let things phase her.
Vanderbilt, now 9-1 over the two days, started his workday with a driving 1,182-1,070 effort against Newman and defeated Valparaiso, Wisconsin-Whitewater and Marion, respectively, before finishing with the Huskers. In the big opening win, Vandy’s only open came on a 7-10 split.
In the process, he relied on his lineup of Mabel Cummins, Paige Peters, Thesier, Ballard and Victoria Varano for the most part. Peters lost his line midway through the day, giving way to appearances from Amanda Naujokas and Kaylee Hitt before coming back and finishing strong in the final.
Vanderbilt’s spare shot needs to be mentioned. Splits aside, the Commodores had virtually no failed spare attempts. In the Nebraska game, for example, Vandy had six splits/openers but no missed spares.
“We continued to shoot spares well,” Williamson said, “although our level of execution with our first shots wasn’t as clean as it was yesterday.”
Sunday’s game, a modification of the original format, will feature three 5-game Baker sets and a single bracket match, which will be the best four of seven. All are streaming on Vanderbilt Athletic’s YouTube site beginning at 8:30 a.m.