The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

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 ties for fifth in inaugural Conference USA Championship

After two Southland titles in three seasons, the Commodores struggled to find their footing in the new C-USA.
A+member+of+the+Vanderbilt+team+competing+as+photographed+on+March+23%2C+2024.+%28Photo+Courtesy+of+Vanderbilt+athletics%29
Vanderbilt athletics
A member of the Vanderbilt team competing as photographed on March 23, 2024. (Photo Courtesy of Vanderbilt athletics)

No. 4 Vanderbilt Bowling turned in a 1-2 finish at the first-ever Conference USA Championship from March 21-24. Ending in a tie for fifth place, the Commodores finished behind an elite group consisting of No. 1 Jacksonville State, No. 2 Arkansas State, No. 3 Youngstown State and No. 7 Louisiana Tech.

The double-elimination tournament featured the mega-match format familiar to postseason play. Two opposing teams compete in a best-of-three series featuring a traditional match, a Baker match and a Baker best-of-seven series.

Vanderbilt quickly found itself behind in the opening mega-match against Louisiana Tech as the Bulldogs totalled a monstrous 1,145 pins in the traditional match — the most of any team all weekend. Louisiana Tech built another early lead in the Baker match as they got off to a 234-173 start following the opening game. Vanderbilt reclaimed the lead after the third game but coughed up a 225-190 defeat in game 4 that appeared almost fatal.

With the mega-match on the line, the Commodores responded with a 223-191 victory in game 5 that gave them a narrow 2-pin victory in the Baker match. The split matches forced a final best-of-seven Baker series that lived up to its tiebreaker status. Neither team got out to a multiple game lead, forcing the series all the way down to a seventh game.

After falling behind early, the Commodores quickly corrected course with seven consecutive strikes to commemorate the game 7. Vanderbilt won the high-scoring affair 258-234, claiming both the series and the mega-match.

Having just finished an exhausting 3.5-hour match, the Commodores naturally seemed sluggish as they opened against Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks took full advantage with a 1,075-976 victory in the traditional match. Vanderbilt returned to form in the Baker match with 1,033 pins, but it still wasn’t enough to overcome the nation’s leading offense.

With a loss to Jacksonville State, the Commodores dropped to the contender’s bracket and squared off once again with Louisiana Tech. Vanderbilt dropped its traditional match for the third time on the weekend despite 237 pins from Paige Peters and 220 from Hailey Lindley.

Having learned from their mistakes a day before, the Bulldogs were in no mood to allow a comeback, stifling Vanderbilt 1,065-928 in the Baker match. The second loss dropped the Commodores out of the C-USA Championship with four other squads left standing in the nine-team league.

Vanderbilt now looks ahead to hearing its name called during the NCAA Selection Show on March 27. Once selected, the Commodores will bowl at one of four NCAA Regional sites from April 4-6.

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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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