The Valpo bowling team put together a pair of strong performances on Friday on the opening day of the Southland Bowling League Championship against two top-10 teams, taking both matches to the tiebreaking best-of-seven baker round, but the Beacons eventually had their 2021-22 campaign come to an end in Harahan, La. in the afternoon session.
How It Happened
- Valpo opened tournament play as the eighth seed in the bracket and was paired up with top-seeded #3 Sam Houston State in the first matchup. Each match featured a traditional team game, followed by a five-game baker set. If the two teams split those contests, a best-of-seven baker round decided the match.
- The Beacons suffered a heartbreaking defeat to SHSU in the traditional team game, falling by just three pins — 935-932. Freshman Kaitlyn Cavender (New Baltimore, Mich./Anchor Bay) led Valpo with a 222, while Lilu Smith (Gahanna, Ohio/Lincoln) rolled a 194 in the match.
- Valpo successfully bounced back from the tight loss, taking down the Bearkats in the five-game baker match, 898-870. SHSU led by 42 pins through two games, but the Beacons erased the deficit plus some with a 215 in game three. The Bearkats closed back to within five pins after the fourth game, but Valpo held off SHSU in the finale to force the best-of-seven baker to decide the match.
- The Bearkats took four straight games to win the best-of-seven baker and advance in the winner’s bracket.
- The loss dropped Valpo into an elimination match versus fifth-seeded #7 Louisiana Tech.
- It was Valpo jumping on top in the traditional team game, earning a 996-969 victory over the Bulldogs. Smith led the way in the win with a 226, Noelle Doody (Tinley Park, Ill./Andrew) posted a 213 and Cavender made it consecutive 200 games with a 203.
- The Beacons got off to a strong start in the five-game baker match as well, as games of 201 and 235 pushed them to a 57-pin advantage through two games.
- Valpo made it four consecutive 200+ baker games, keeping things rolling with marks of 223 and 225. But Louisiana Tech used games of 237 and 267 to erase all but two pins off its deficit, and then held the advantage over Valpo in game five as the Beacons fell, 1080-1040.
- Louisiana Tech would then close out the match victory and advance in the tournament bracket with a 4-1 win in the decisive best-of-seven baker match.
- Smith’s efforts on Friday in the traditional games bumped her season average to 195.1, seventh-best in a single season in program history and the best single-season mark since the 2015-16 campaign.