Hawks take MEAC title with 4-1 win against N.C. A&T State
March 26, 2017

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CHESAPEAKE, Virginia - It wasn’t easy.

And at times it wasn’t pretty.

But the University of Maryland Eastern Shore completed the first of its season goals on Sunday afternoon with a 4-1 win in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship against North Carolina A&T State University.

“That was an atrocious exhibition of spare shooting,” Hawks coach Kayla Bandy said. “But it goes back to what happened Saturday. When you are bowling bad you move on to the next shot, tell yourself you are going to execute it and at the end of the day you just have to be better than the team that’s on the pair with you.”

The Hawks (84-39, 19-5 MEAC) will now wait to find out if they earned one of eight at-large berths to the NCAA Bowling Championship, which will be announced Wednesday.

Eastern Shore started off with a 175-170 loss in the first game of best-of-seven Baker format and struggled through much of the second game as well, before pulling it out 193-188.

After back-to-back opens by the Aggies, Jacqueline Rhoda (Portage, Indiana) got a strike in the ninth frame and then Thashaina Seraus (Oranjestad, Aruba) filled the 10th frame with back-to-back strikes and then an eight for the win.

From there, the momentum started to swing toward the Hawks, but it remained whisker close.

“We didn’t bowl well, but we were quick to refocus our energy on the next shot and on being better in the next shot,” Bandy said. “With the spare shooting, it’s not that we don’t know how to make spares. It’s that we don’t have a lot of experience on telecasts.

“That’s because of lack of development and being successful. As you start to be successful you get a little taste of it. Today was a good taste of what getting to the next level is going to take. We are going to enjoy this moment this evening, but we have to get back to campus to focus our energy on executing shots.”

The Hawks inexperience under the pressure of the broadcast showed early as the Hawks — and also the Aggies — struggled to make spares that they normally would. The lack of spare conversions helped keep the scores low for the entire match.

After knotting the match score at 1-1, Bandy started to go to some of her reserves and they responded to help the team moving forward. The Hawks won Game 3 by a 170-165 score, then the fourth 173-167.

They closed out the victory with a 188-165 in the final game as they maintained enough focus to keep from giving up the momentum. The depth of the team and what that meant for its success was a theme for the entire event.

Bandy has known the team had the potential to be deep from the beginning of the season, but having no hesitation to tap into that depth has come with time.

“You can talk about how deep our squad is all day,” Bandy said. “But until you can be in that circumstance and use your six, seven and eight bowlers it’s not a reality. Today those girls stepped up.

“Jalesa (Johnson) and Melanie (Copey) hadn’t bowled on that pattern all week and today they stepped up. Brigitte (Jacobs) could have come in and been successful. Kaci stepped up yesterday early on in the bracket. I can’t say enough about the entire lineup. We are tough.”

Seraus — the two-time reigning MEAC Bowler of the Year — was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Performer, and Kayla Bandy was named the Most Outstanding Coach.

The graduate student came up big game after game in the anchor role, hitting key shots with every game within a handful of pins either way.

“I think that Thashaina has had probably not her strongest overall season in her Hawks’ career, however, today she made shots like I have never seen her make before,” Bandy said. “She got on the approach. She delivered the shot and accepted what came. She moved on the next shot and did the same thing. She was really great today and an integral part to why we got to hold that trophy at the end.”

Alexandra Hernandez (Maracaibo, Venezuela) joined Seraus in being voted to the All-Tournament team after a strong performance over three days.

“I think Alexandra did a great job this weekend,” Bandy said. “She gets better with each event. Not to take anything away from Alexandra, but I feel like we also have other players that were good enough to have been on that team as well. ‘Jacque’ Rhoda was instrumental to our success today as well not just with her shots, but also the way she carried the team emotionally.”

The championship match was recorded and will be televised via tape-delay on ESPNU on Sunday, April 2 at 9 p.m.

“At the end of the day this trophy is indicative of how the girls played this week,” Bandy said. “They played as a team, so there wasn’t really one player carrying the whole bunch. That’s how you win championships.

“The only thing that can keep us from achieving what we want to achieve is ourselves and there are 11 bowlers who are relentless about what they want out of this season. They put in the work. They know we have to get better still. So, we are going to go back and we are waiting to hear our name called on Wednesday.”

That announcement would send the Hawks to the NCAA Championships (April 13-15). They already have a spot secured at the USBC Championships (April 20-22).



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