#18 Valparaiso went 4-1 on the second day of competition Saturday at the Hawk Classic in Millsboro, Del. and will enter Sunday with the chance to win its fourth consecutive tournament, as the Crusaders currently sit in fourth place in the strong tournament field.
In a field that features 10 of the nation’s top-12 squads, Valpo accumulated 8,416 pins through two days of action to rank fourth in the 19-team field. Even more impressively, the Crusaders trail just the nation’s top-three ranked teams in the form of Vanderbilt, Fairleigh Dickinson and host Maryland Eastern Shore.
Valparaiso begin bowling on Saturday, which was contested in the traditional team format, against #10 New Jersey City University and earned a narrow 917-914 victory, thanks in large part to a season-best 245 from senior Krystyna Johnson (Montgomery, Ill./Oswego East [Delaware State]), which was also the Crusaders’ best game of the day. Valpo then posted the best team match of the day among the tournament field in a 1042-802 rout of St. Peter’s. Johnson again paced the team with a 221, while senior Amanda Cortese (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Hoffman Estates [Central Missouri]) posted a 220 and sophomore Kaity Galka (Dyer, Ind./Lake Central) tallied a 213 game.
Facing #11 Adelphi in the third contest of the day, the Crusaders won almost as easily, rolling to a 954-779 victory. Senior Natalie Cortese (Hoffman Estates, Ill./Hoffman Estates [Central Missouri]) led the way against the Panthers with an effort of 227 and was helped out by a 202 from Amanda Cortese as well. The Crusaders would drop the fourth match of the day to Monmouth, 870-846, with a 192 by Natalie Cortese leading the way. Valpo ended the second day of action against #9 Sacred Heart, getting a 210 from Natalie Cortese in a 761-761 draw. In the tiebreaker, contested in a modified baker format, the Crusaders came out on top, ending the day with the 4-1 record.
“We started off well today with three straight wins,” said Crusader head coach Matt Nantais. “The fourth match, we struggled with spares and dropped that match in a tough loss. We did a nice job bouncing back in the fifth match to win the tie-breaker, though. We have our work cut out for us tomorrow, having to beat FDU, UMES and Vanderbilt to win the title. But I think we have a good chance to win this tournament, and we are looking forward to getting back on the lanes.”
Valparaiso (28-7) enters Sunday’s bracket action, to be contested in the best four-of-seven baker format, as one of four teams with a shot at the tournament championship. The Crusaders open the bracket play against host Maryland Eastern Shore, and would need to defeat Vanderbilt and Fairleigh Dickinson in addition to the Hawks to earn the crown.