In a 19-team tournament field at the Hawk Classic in Millsboro, Del. that features 10 of the nation’s top-12 squads, it was #18 Valparaiso which continued its hot start to the 2011-2012 campaign on Friday, as the Crusaders sit atop the standings after the first of three days of competition.
The Crusaders tallied 3,896 pins through five sets of four-game baker matches on Friday afternoon, outpacing #2 Vanderbilt (3,830 pins) and #3 Fairleigh Dickinson (3,828 pins) atop the tournament standings.
“We bowled well for most of the day today,” said Crusader head coach Matt Nantais. “Teams seemed to bowl their best set against us today, but we stayed pretty consistent and averaged 194 for the day. We did struggle on some single pin spares, and didn’t bowl as aggressively as we normally do. We seem to struggle the first day so we will see how we start off tomorrow.”
Valpo opened action on Friday against #16 St. Francis (N.Y.), earning a relatively easy victory by a 791-725 count. The Crusaders then faced #8 Kutztown and rolled a tremendous four-game series of 816, but unfortunately for Valpo, it wasn’t enough for the win, as Kutztown rolled the second-highest series of the day for an 850-816 victory. Valpo would have defeated any of the other 18 teams at the tournament in the second match with its 816 score.
The Crusaders rebounded in the day’s third contest, facing off against #7 Sam Houston State and coming out with a narrow 760-754 win. Valpo matched up against #2 Vanderbilt in the fourth match of the day and rolled the third-best series of Friday’s action with an 836, but yet again the Crusaders faced the one team that could beat them in that set of matches, as Vandy rolled a tournament-best 865. Valpo closed the day against #3 Fairleigh Dickinson, but couldn’t come out with a win, dropping a 731-693 match.
Valparaiso (24-6) returns to the lanes at 10 a.m. on Saturday, as the second day of competition will feature five sets of traditional matches. The top four squads in the standings following tomorrow’s action have a shot at the tournament title in bracket play on Sunday.