Junior Natalie Cortese (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Hoffman Estates [Central Missouri]) was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Greater Ozark Invitational for the second straight year as #11 Valparaiso closed the tournament in fifth place.
The Crusaders kicked off bracket-round play, contested in a best-of-seven baker format, Sunday against host #5 Central Missouri. UCM claimed a win to open the match, but after a rare tie in game two, Valpo took the next two games 205-169 and 202-173 to earn a 2-1-1 advantage. But despite rolling a 199 in game five, the Crusaders couldn’t push their lead as the Jennies rolled a 231 to knot up the match at 2-2-1. UCM then earned narrow victories in game six (180-175) and game seven (187-180) to win the day’s opener.
Valpo found itself matched up against #17 Minnesota State-Mankato in its second match of the day. Mankato won the opening game before the Crusaders rebounded with a 186-182 win in game two. But that would be the only game Valpo could take from the Mavericks, as Mankato out-dueled the Crusaders to a 234-220 decision in game three before closing out the 4-1 decision with wins in games four and five.
The pair of losses dropped the Crusaders into the fifth/sixth place match versus #20 Louisiana Tech, but Valpo would not be denied a victory to close out tournament action. Five of the Crusaders’ six games against the Lady Techsters were 200+ efforts, including each of the first four. Valpo ran out to a 3-0 lead thanks to games of 221, 200 and 229, but Louisiana Tech took game four, 217-213, and also won game five to close to within 3-2. The Crusaders closed out the 4-2 victory with a decisive 226-155 win in game six.
Cortese earned All-Tournament honors after averaging a 198.2 over the five individual matches on Saturday, seventh-best among the tournament field. Cortese, the Crusaders’ anchor bowler, broke 200 in two of those matches on Saturday, including a team tournament-best 245 game in the opener against Mankato.
Valparaiso (7-6) returns to action in two weekends at home, as the Crusaders host the second Crusader Classic. This year’s version of Valpo’s home tournament will be a three-day affair, beginning Friday, Nov. 12 and will be contested this year at Stardust Bowl II in Merrillville.