#13 Valparaiso battled against three of the nation’s top-six teams Friday afternoon at the Big Red Invitational in Lincoln, Neb. and enters the final day of tournament competition in sixth place out of the 10-team field.
Friday’s action, contested in the traditional format, opened with the Crusaders facing #6 Arkansas State. Valpo got 200+ efforts from Natalie Cortese (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Hoffman Estates [Central Missouri]), who rolled a Crusader Friday-best 235, and Krystyna Johnson (Montgomery, Ill./Oswego East [Delaware State]), who posted a 203. But it would not be enough, as ASU claimed a 981-903 win to open the day.
The task only got tougher from there, as the Crusaders’ second contest of the day was against #1 Maryland Eastern Shore. Valpo put forth a great effort, led by a 226 from Cortese and a 200 from Johnson, but the Hawks eked out a narrow 977-956 win over the Crusaders.
The third match was the charm for Valpo Friday, as the Crusaders claimed a 1018-991 win over #19 Minnesota State-Mankato. Ashley Busiel (Elk Grove Village, Ill./James B. Conant [Harper College]) paced the Valpo effort with a 234, while the Crusaders also received a 216 from Johnson and a 201 from Cortese en route to the victory. The day closed against #3 Nebraska, and the host Cornhuskers took a 1076-822 win. Valpo was led in the finale by a 197 from Busiel.
“I was very happy with the effort today, because the ladies did a fantastic job of following up their strong performance on Thursday,” said Crusader head coach Shon Washington. “All three losses today were to top-six opponents, and only the Nebraska match was truly decided before the final frame. This is the team I was hoping to see this year and it was well worth the wait. Day three should be an exciting finish to a very productive weekend.”
Valparaiso (38-29) enters Saturday’s final day of competition in sixth place and will take the lanes beginning at 8:15 a.m.