In an eight-team field that features seven of the nation’s top-15 squads, the #11 Valparaiso bowling team opened action Friday at the Shrewsbury Invitational in St. Louis, Mo., going 2-3 on the day.
The Crusaders sit in a tie for fifth place in the tournament, which bases its standings on won-loss record as each team will face every other team twice over the course of the weekend. Nebraska and Central Missouri are tied atop the standings at 4-1 after day one.
"Today was a day of ups and downs as we got off to a good start, but then faced a challenge as the lanes transitioned early as we faced Arkansas State and Nebraska," said Crusader head coach Stephen Anthony. "I thought the team did a nice job of working through the changing conditions even though we didn't get the results we wanted. But our persistence paid off with a solid win over Elmhurst."
The Crusaders started the day strong, leading start to finish in a 955-826 victory over #13 Minnesota State-Mankato, featured by a game-five effort of 233 in the five-game baker format. #6 Arkansas State downed Valpo in the second match of the day, 1001-894, despite the Crusaders jumping out to an 84-pin lead after the opening game.
Valparaiso was then unable to overcome an 80-pin deficit after game one of its next match, falling to #8 Nebraska by a 937-842 count. The Crusaders dominated Elmhurst in its next contest, increasing their lead every game en route to a 968-773 win, before falling in their tightest match of the day in the finale against #5 Central Missouri, 884-865.
"The final match was another tough battle with Central Missouri, as they all are," said Anthony. "Some unfortunate spares in the fifth game cost us the game, but again the team demonstrated persistence and a willingness to compete today. We have demonstrated an ability all season to push through the tough starts, so I have high expectations for tomorrow as we push to move up the standings on day two."
Valparaiso (48-33) returns to action on day two of the three-day tournament on Saturday at 11 a.m.