#15 Valparaiso earned four victories on Saturday, including a win over the nation’s second-ranked team, as the Crusaders continued action at the Kutztown Invitational in Reading, Pa.
The Crusaders closed the day with 11,252 total pins over 12 matches in the first two days of competition, good for 15th place in the 27-team field and less than 100 pins shy of 12th position. Central Missouri holds the team lead with 12,586 pins.
Valpo opened play Saturday, contested in the traditional team format, against #11 St. Francis (Pa.), but despite a strong performance led by a 234 game from senior Sadie Jasinski (Franklin, Wis./Franklin), the Crusaders fell in the opener, 1030-996. Valpo bounced back with a pair of easy wins, downing Mount Aloysius 913-757 and Medaille 909-751. Sophomore Savannah Carr (Buckeye, Ariz./Youngker) paced the Crusaders in the former match with a 213, while junior Katherine Sulaitis (St. Charles, Ill./East) posted a team-best 203 in the latter match.
“Today started off with our first match being delayed by over an hour because of lane conditions,” said Crusader head coach Matt Nantais. “We had a really good look on the pair of lanes that we were on, and then we were moved to a different pair. I felt like we still had a pretty decent look at the lanes, but we couldn't get the breaks that St. Francis got in that match.”
The Crusaders then made it three straight wins with a strong effort against the nation’s second-ranked team, downing #2 Fairleigh Dickinson 1005-949. Fifth-year senior Torrie Decker (Van Wert, Ohio/Van Wert [Robert Morris]) rolled a career-best game of 247 in the win, while Sulaitis posted a 211 as well. Sulaitis made it three straight games above 200, pacing Valpo with a 213 effort in an 892-868 win over host #18 Kutztown.
“Matches two through five, we bowled really well and this was the first time in a while that I have seen the team win as a team,” said Nantais. “It wasn't one or two players holding the team up. We had a match against FDU that went into the tenth frame and we are able to perform at a pretty high level to get past them. Then the same thing happened against Kutztown – we went into the tenth frame and performed pretty well to earn the win.”
Despite a 201 game from Decker, Valpo was unable to close the day with a win, dropping a narrow 876-867 decision to #RV Adelphi.
“The last match, we went into the 10th frame up a few pins and made spares, but struggled with our second fill balls and that cost us the match,” said Nantais. “We start out tomorrow with Sacred Heart - hopefully we come away with three wins, but overall for this weekend, we have performed the best we have all year. This is still a pretty young team, and to see them progress the way they did this weekend, I look forward to the rest of the year.”
Valparaiso (32-34) closes out the Kutztown Invitational on Sunday morning.