#15 Valparaiso continued action at the FDU NJ Jamboree on Saturday, splitting six matches on the middle day of the season-opening tournament.
The Crusaders finished the second day of competition with a total pinfall of 10,247 pins, closing the day in 11th place out of the 26 competing squads. Valpo was just 20 pins outside of the top-ten at the end of the day.
Competition in the traditional format opened Saturday for the Crusaders against #12 Kutztown, a match which resulted in an 869-851 Valpo win as the Crusaders were led by a 212 game from fifth-year senior Torrie Decker (Van Wert, Ohio/Van Wert [Robert Morris (Ill.)]). Valpo fell in its next match to #19 Delaware State, 988-929, despite a 234 game by Decker.
“We started off a bit slow today – we had a tough pair to start on, but we were able to get a win over a very tough Kutztown team,” said Crusader head coach Matt Nantais. “Against Delaware State, we didn’t execute on some of our spares – we could’ve won that match if we convert a few more spares.”
The Crusaders’ best all-around match of the tournament to date came in its next contest, as Valpo defeated #14 LIU Brooklyn by a final of 1018-928. Junior Katherine Sulaitis (St. Charles, Ill./East) led the way for the Crusaders with a 223 game, but got plenty of help, as sophomore Alyssa Meade (Chesterfield, Mich./L’Anse Creuse North) rolled a 220 and sophomore Carly Larson (Merrillville, Ind./Merrillville) registered a game of 214.
“We came back and got into a groove against Long Island and kept throwing the ball well in that match,” said Nantais. “One thing I’ve noticed with this team is, even when we struggled, nobody gives up – they all work through it, come back in and try to make the best shot that they can.”
Two of the Crusaders’ final three matches of the day resulted in their second and third highest single-match scores, but also resulted in losses in the end. Valpo fell to #17 St. Francis (N.Y.) 1039-943, with Sulaitis pacing the Crusaders with a 216 and Larson rolling a 211. The Crusaders rebounded for an 840-778 win over St. Peter’s, but dropped their finale to #5 Maryland Eastern Shore 998-941 despite a 223 from Larson.
“We ended up on another really tough pair against St. Peter’s,” said Nantais. “We tried multiple things, using different balls and different lines – luckily we were able to get that win. In the final match, you could see some of our bowlers were a little bit tired – it was a very long day. We were in the match, but we missed too many easy spares. We tried coming back, but just came up a little bit short – I was happy to see the way we never gave up and kept fighting all the way until that last ball of the tenth frame.”
Larson posted three games of 200 or better on Saturday, averaging a 199.3 on the day, and finished the first two days in 20th place overall among individuals in tournament average. Decker posted a 194.3 average for the day and sits at 204.7 through two days of competition, good for 12th in the field.
Valparaiso (7-4) closes out action at Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday with three matches in bracket play.
“I think we’re looking pretty good this year and moving in the right direction,” said Nantais. “Everybody has been supporting each other and doing their part. Hopefully tomorrow, we can come out with another three wins and return home for some atonement in our home tournament.”