#15 Valparaiso shattered its previous record score for a five-game baker match as the Crusaders opened play Thursday evening at the Big Red Invitational in Lincoln, Neb.
The Crusaders began the tournament against host #1 Nebraska, but could not replicate their win over the Cornhuskers from last weekend. It was a tight match through three games, as Valpo trailed by just 39 pins. But a rough game four prevented a 236 in game five from making a difference, as the Crusaders fell by a final of 1057-963 to the hosts.
The 236 in the finale against Nebraska proved to be a harbinger of things to come in the next five-game set, however. Bowling by themselves in a vacant slot, due to an odd number of teams in the tournament, the Crusaders broke 200 in all five games and were above 220 in four of the five, highlighted by a 255 effort in game three. When the final pins were tallied, Valpo had rolled a 1,151 for the five-game match, shattering the previous program record of 1,079 for a five-game baker contest. In fact, the 230.2 average over the five games was the best in any length baker match in program history as well.
Valpo was unable to keep up the momentum into its next contest against #6 Central Missouri, falling to the Jennies 1040-921 as UCM bested the Crusaders in four of the five games. The Crusaders would wrap up the day with a win, though, cruising by Elmhurst 928-801 in the day’s finale.
“We were in second place for most of the day, dropping in the standings after having a really rough pair of lanes in the last match,” said Crusader head coach Matt Nantais. “Overall, I don’t think our position or wins and losses show it, but it was probably our best day of the year. Bowling a 1,151 shows what this team is capable of if we really just focus on our game. Now we come out tomorrow and Saturday in what will be all traditional team games – I think we’re set up to do pretty well.”
Valparaiso (19-14) tallied 3,963 pins on the opening day of action. The Crusaders continue play from Lincoln on Friday morning, as the middle day will be contested in the traditional team format.