LAS VEGAS, Nev.–(NU Athletics Apr. 15)–Nebraska bowling’s quest for a seventh NCAA title ended Saturday afternoon, as the Huskers lost 2-0 to Vanderbilt in the elimination match at the NCAA Championship
The Commadores edged the Huskers in the traditional match, 1115-1009, before completing the mega match sweep with a 1096-1020 victory in the five-game baker match.
“It was a pretty good season and I am proud of the team,” Paul Klempa said. “We’re all a little demoralized when you lose three matches in a row by a combined 28 pins (dating back to last night). That to me just says it wasn’t meant to be. We bowled really well and shot some scores that would usually win, but it wasn’t enough. We tip our caps to both Arkansas State and Vanderbilt. I think that the two hottest, best teams at the moment are on the show. Wish them both the best of luck.
Proud of the program, the team and Amara (Smith Speights) and Gwen (Gwen Maeha) who just wrapped up their careers. Nebraska bowling has a bright future,” Klempa said.”
With the win, Vanderbilt will face Arkansas State in the title match tonight at 8 p.m. (central) on ESPNU. Nebraska finishes its season with a third-place finish, the 11th time that the Huskers have finished third or better since the NCAA bowling championship.
The Huskers and Commodores kept close tabs on each other for the majority of the traditional match before Vanderbilt closed with a flourish in taking a 1115-1109 victory. Nebraska held steady through the first eight frames, adding marks in the 10th before Vanderbilt was able to fill doubles in four out of five possible marks in the 10th. NU tried to rally in the final frame, but struggled with splits and could not complete the comeback. Jillian Martin led the team with a score of 244, including six straight strikes to end the match. Anna Callan followed close behind with 235, while Kayla Verstraete (227), Crystal Elliott (211) and Kendyl Hofmeister (192) rounded out the Husker lineup.
The Huskers had a slow start in the first baker match training behind 195-177. Utilizing their traditional lineup, the Huskers were able to put marks in frames one, a double in four and five as well as a double in the ninth and tenth as they trailed by 12 pins.
In game two, the Big Red was able to stay clean in all but the second and eighth frames and totaled five strikes in a 195-180 loss. A change in lineup kept the Huskers fresh, as Gwen Maeha sprung into action in game three starting with an unfortunate split. The Huskers marked in nine of 10 frames but had just four strikes in a 238-189 setback.
Nebraska was ready to strike back in game four but was met by a deadly seven ten split in frame two to slow any momentum. Despite the split being the only open frame, NU recorded just four strikes in a 204-192 loss that put Vanderbilt ahead by 99 pins heading into the final baker game.
Maeha gave NU its first strike in frame two, followed by a turkey in frames four through six, and ending the game with a five bagger. NU’s 235 score wasn’t enough to dig out the hole for the Huskers. Nebraska closed the match with five consecutive strikes, including one by senior Amara Smith Speights in the ninth before Jillian Martin closed the 10th with three straight strikes, as NU posted a 235-212 victory in game five.