The #10 Valparaiso bowling team returned to competition for the first time in nearly a month on Friday afternoon at the Music City Classic in Smyrna, Tenn., posting a 4-2 record on the day.
#2 Vanderbilt is hosting the weekend tournament, which features 17 teams ranked among the nation’s top-20 in the 20-squad field. Through the first day, the Crusaders sit in 11th place with a total pin count of 5,279 pins.
“Today was a challenging day, but I was pleased with our record on the day,” said Crusader head coach Stephen Anthony. “Our goal was to focus on each match and to get results today; to go 4-2 on the day against a field consisting of 17 of the top 20 was a positive day. We certainly look forward to tomorrow and the opportunity to move up in the standings. We need to be more complete as a team as we move into the baker round, but we have shown this season that we can continue to improve as the tournament progresses so I'm looking forward to day two.”
Valpo’s slate of foes for its traditional-format matches on Friday kicked off with #12 Kutztown, and while the Crusaders struggled in their opener, they did just enough to pull out a 793-723 victory. #16 Florida A&M was next up for Valpo, and this time the Crusaders needed their best team total of the day to register a 960-937 win, led by a 225 from Natalie Cortese (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Hoffman Estates [Central Missouri]) and a 203 by Amanda Cortese (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Hoffman Estates [Central Missouri]).
Next up was the Crusaders’ highest-ranked opponent of the day, #8 New Jersey City, and the nailbiter went right down to the final frame before Valpo prevailed by an 839-833 count, paced by a 206 by Amanda Cortese. The Crusaders would fall for the first time in their fourth match of the day, dropping a 939-869 decision to #15 Alabama A&M despite games of 224 from Natalie Cortese and 206 from Krystyna Johnson (Montgomery, Ill./Oswego East [Delaware State]).
Valpo bounced back against Hampton with a solid 906-810 victory, led by its individual single-game high on the day of 231 by Johnson. Johnson would surpass 200 for the third straight game, rolling a 221 in the day’s finale versus #13 Sacred Heart, but it would not be enough as the Crusaders fell to the Pioneers, 927-912. Johnson ended the day with the Crusaders’ best individual average as well, posting an average of 192.7 over the six traditional games.
Valparaiso (64-41) returns to action on the second of three days of competition on Saturday, as the Crusaders take to the lanes at noon for six baker-format matches.