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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Bowling: Vanderbilt defeats six ranked teams, finishes fourth at Stallings Invitational

The Commodores have come a long way since their January struggles.
Vanderbilt+Bowling+finished+fourth+at+the+NC+A%26T+Stallings+Invitational+from+Feb.+23-25.+%28Vanderbilt+Athletics%29
Vanderbilt Athletics
Vanderbilt Bowling finished fourth at the NC A&T Stallings Invitational from Feb. 23-25. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

No. 5 Vanderbilt went 10-3 en route to a fourth-place finish at the NC A&T Stallings Invitational from Feb. 23-25. The Commodores claimed 10 wins in consecutive tournaments for the first time all season, marking a noticeable turnaround from their struggles in January.

“Instead of focusing on wanting to win nationals and Conference [USA], we’re each individually focusing on small aspects,” junior Paige Peters said. “If you focus on the small things, you’ll eventually get to the bigger things. It’s just not getting ahead of ourselves.”

Vanderbilt began the weekend with a 4-1 stretch in the Baker matches punctuated by a win over No. 3 Arkansas State. The lone loss of the day came in a tight match against No. 11 Sam Houston State, while the Commodores also claimed wins against unranked Belmont Abbey, Norfolk State and Howard.

Throughout the weekend, Vanderbilt relied on a lineup of Caroline Thesier, Kailee Channell, Haley Lindley, Paige Peters and Victoria Varano with Alyssa Ballard occasionally subbing in for Thesier. The lineup was a slight tweak from a weekend prior, when the coaching staff opted for Amanda Naujokas over the freshman Lindley.

The Commodores were even better on Friday as they went 5-0 in their fifth undefeated day of the season. Four ranked teams were included among the Commodores’ vanquished opponents, most notably No. 6 Nebraska and No. 9 Duquesne. With an average of 203.3 pins per game, Vanderbilt entered bracket play comfortably in fourth place.

“Some of it is just being back together and having a few days to actually practice,” associate head coach Josie Barnes said of the team’s improvement. “Being able to reestablish what our process is and hone in on the things we’ve been struggling on is helpful.”

The Baker best-of-seven series began with a match against No. 4 North Carolina A&T. After a disastrous start in game 1, Vanderbilt rebounded to take a 2-1 lead. The Aggies won the next two games to put themselves right on the cusp of advancing, but an improbable tie at 222 pins apiece staved off a loss for the Commodores. Instead, the Black and Gold won game 6 by a 34-pin margin and sent the series to a half-game tiebreaker.

With a spot in the semifinals on the line, Vanderbilt striked in frames two and three of the five-frame game, giving them a 109-72 edge over the Aggies. That advanced the Commodores to face Arkansas State in a rematch of last season’s national championship.

After dropping the first two games of the series, Vanderbilt stormed back to win three straight, putting themselves in position to win the series in game 6. The Commodores held the lead entering the final frame, but a strike and spare by the Arkansas State anchor gave the Red Wolves a one-pin victory to tie the series.

With momentum deflated and Arkansas State receiving its choice of lane, the Commodores were behind the eight-ball entering the do-or-die game 7. Unable to overcome the odds, Vanderbilt slumped to a 219-132 defeat to lose the series and a spot in the finals.

Still reeling from their loss, the Commodores found themselves unable to crack 200 pins in four out of five games in the final series, losing to North Carolina A&T 4-1. The loss put Vanderbilt in fourth place to finish the tournament — a far cry from where they were a month ago, but still not where the defending champions desired to be.

“I think their previous successes are putting a different type of pressure on them from what they’ve experienced in the past,” Barnes said. “This is the first time we’re coming in as defending champions and having the [NCAA] Regional setup, so I think our home tournament’s going to dictate a lot.”

Despite the shortcomings in bracket play, three Commodores — Channell, Peters and Varano — found themselves in the top 10 of the tournament’s individual standings. This is the second competition in a row that the junior Channell, who missed all of last season with a hip injury, has led Vanderbilt in scoring.

“When everything happened last year, it took a lot to get back to the point [Channell] was at,” Peters said of her teammate. “She’s just putting in the work, and it’s showing.”

Vanderbilt will be back in action when they host the Music City Classic from March 15-17. The home tournament will be the last competition of the regular season and feature one of the season’s largest competitive fields.

Baker Match Scores:

Vanderbilt defeats Belmont Abbey 1,017-849

Vanderbilt defeats Norfolk State 1,109-849

Sam Houston State defeats Vanderbilt 1,009-973

Vanderbilt defeats Howard 933-837

Vanderbilt defeats Arkansas State 1,002-974

Traditional Match Scores:

Vanderbilt defeats No. 12 Tulane 1,078-1,051

Vanderbilt defeats No. 14 Maryland Eastern Shore 1,016-889

Vanderbilt defeats Coppin State 1,063-789

Vanderbilt defeats No. 6 Nebraska 958-858

Vanderbilt defeats No. 9 Duquesne 1,017-891

Baker Bracket Scores:

Vanderbilt defeats No. 4 North Carolina A&T 4.5-3.5

Arkansas State defeats Vanderbilt 4-3

North Carolina A&T defeats Vanderbilt 4-1

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About the Contributor
Jayce Pollard
Jayce Pollard, Non-revenue Sports Specialist
Jayce Pollard (‘25) is a student in the College of Arts and Science majoring in public policy and economics and minoring in data science and Spanish. Outside of writing for The Hustler, you can catch Jayce trying to learn the rules of soccer, hating on the Arkansas Razorbacks and being chronically on Twitter. He can be reached at [email protected]
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