The Valpo bowling team closed competition at the Big Red Invitational Sunday in historic fashion, as its best-of-seven baker match against host #3 Nebraska was broadcast live on the Big Ten Network — the first live bowling broadcast in BTN history, and the Valpo program’s first appearance on national TV in program history. The Beacons acquitted themselves well, taking two of the first three games before eventually falling to the reigning national champions.
How It Happened
- The first of Valpo’s two matches on Sunday was a matchup against Quincy. Despite out-scoring their opponents by 63 pins over the course of the match, the Beacons fell 4-3, as all four of Quincy’s wins came by 15 pins or fewer. Valpo did post a 246 game in game five, its high game of the day.
- Valpo then shifted over to the television lanes for its showdown with the defending national champions, and Nebraska came out of the gates hot with a 257-193 win in game one.
- The Beacons came right back with a clean second game, featuring a split pickup by Addy Bates (Cedar Park, Texas/Cedar Park) in the fifth frame as Valpo held the lead from the second frame on. Valpo eventually won the game, 206-161, to even the match.
- Nebraska jumped out to a lead early in the third game with back-to-back strikes to open up. The Huskers maintained a slim edge for most of the game, but the Beacons stayed within striking distance as they were matching Nebraska frame-for-frame.
- Trailing by eight pins heading into the ninth frame, Kaitlyn Cavender (New Baltimore, Mich./Anchor Bay) picked up a key strike to match a Nebraska strike and keep Valpo’s hopes alive. Bates then followed with a big shot of her own, striking on her first ball of the tenth — a strike which put the Beacons in front after a Nebraska first-ball nine. Bates closed out the Huskers with a nine-spare as Valpo eked out a 202-198 win to go ahead 2-1 in the match.
- Two opens in the first half of the fourth game were too much for Valpo to overcome, as Nebraska evened the match with a 220-144 win.
- The Beacons were right with the Huskers halfway through game five, trailing by just four pins, but Nebraska rolled five strikes in a six-ball stretch to pull away for a 224-167 victory to go up 3-2 in the match.
- Valpo was in good position to potentially force a decisive seventh game late in the sixth, as the Beacons were within two pins after eight frames. Nebraska closed out the match with four straight strikes, however, for a 212-182 win and a 4-2 match victory.
- Lilu Smith (Gahanna, Ohio/Lincoln), who boasted the team’s best average in traditional team action on Saturday, rolled a team-best five strikes in the televised match. Smith and Cavender — both of whom are freshmen — were clean through their respective 12 frames against Nebraska as well.
- Valpo closed the tournament in seventh place, averaging 191.5/game over the three days of competition.
Valpo (43-44) will take to the lanes for the final time in the regular season at the Columbia 300 Music City Classic in Smyrna, Tenn. The three-day event opens on Friday, March 18.