Mariana Alvarado paced UMES, averaging over a 222 in team games.

April 10, 2014

WICKLIFFE, Ohio - The Lady Hawks bowling team; in search of a sixth National Championship, started the 2014 journey on a high note today at Game of Wickliffe in Wickliffe, Ohio. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) opened the morning session qualifying round 3-1 and stood in first place heading into the break.

UMES opened the day by taking on the Knights of Fairleigh Dickinson University. They started a team-game lineup of All-American Megan Buja (Rockford, Ill.), Victoria Jones (Baltimore, Md.), Valerie Riggin (Vista, Calif.), Tatiana Munoz (Ibague Tolima, Colombia) and All-American Mariana Alvarado (Leon, Mexico).

That lineup would prove their mettle all day as head coach Kayla Bandy never flinched, not even warming up one of the three freshman reserves.

Match 1

In the first match, against Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU), the team struggled early, but the upperclassman experience shone through as they rallied from a huge deficit to grab a one-pin win, 1029-1028.

Heading into the eighth frame the Hawks trailed by 38 pins, but had some marks to rely on as FDU opened twice in the seventh frame. That problem continued in the eighth frame as they opened again to go with four strikes. UMES countered with four strikes of their own and a spare. The lead was just 17 pins for FDU going into the ninth frame.

Buja opened the ninth with a spare and FDU tossed a strike. Jones did the same. Riggin spared the third position and the Knights left it open, allowing UMES to make up some pins. Munoz tossed one on the pocket and struck while her counterpart for FDU spared. Alvarado struck but so did FDU's anchor and the match was tight with UMES down seven pins heading into the final frame for each bowler.



Buja split in the tenth but it didn't hurt the Hawks as FDU did the same at the lead-off spot. Jones spared and struck on her fill ball. Her counterpart spared as well but before she could finish the frame the fire alarm went off in the center. After a brief delay, play resumed and Riggin marked in the tenth for UMES. The match was as close as they get. Munoz struck on her first ball in the tenth and spared on the fill to shoot an impressive 234. Her counterpart mustered just a 168 and that position would prove to me the difference in the match.

It wasn't over however, as Alvarado needed to strike. She did that twice in the tenth and got eight on the fill ball. She put the pressure back on the FDU anchor. She would strike. A second strike would give the match to the Knights, but she got just nine and spared the fill ball to lose by one and give UMES the crucial first match victory.

Match 2

In the second match the Hawks seemed to have moved to Splits Ville as they tossed a horrendous amount, six in all, in the first 30 frames. UMES was down over 50 pins after just four frames for each bowler.

Riggin was a bright spot for UMES as the junior tossed six strikes in a row at one point.

Slowly the Hawks got back into the match against the top-seed and nation's No. 1 team, Arkansas State. They struck four times in the fifth frame and had a nine-spare in the other frame. UMES was still down 60 pins.

In the sixth frame Buja, Jones and Riggin all struck. Munoz spared and Alvarado struck as well to start the rally. They were down just 42 pins heading into the seventh. One frame later (five in all), the Hawks were down just10 pins as ASU struggled heading to the eighth frame.

Riggin broke her streak in the eighth frame, getting a spare, but her teammates kept her up, tossing four strikes. UMES now had a 55 pin lead heading into the final frame.

Buja struck out in the tenth frame and shot a 193. Jones was on and shot a 224 while Riggin used her six in a row to shoot 233. Munoz struck out in the tenth to shoot a 217 while Alvarado shot a 220.

UMES would capture the 1089-1040 win over Arkansas State and defeat them for the first time this season.

They were 2-0 and the only undefeated team at that point.

Match 3

The third match pitted UMES against their rival Vanderbilt. For once, UMES didn't allow their opponent to jump out to a big lead. They tossed nine strikes in the first 12 frames and lead by 93 pins heading in to the fifth frame.

Vanderbilt started off rocky in the fifth, fouling on the first ball but recovered to spare the frame. Riggin struggled for UMES with back-to-back open frames. Alvarado also opened but three strikes helped UMES hold onto the lead. UMES was up 79 going into the sixth frame.

Buja spared the frame while Vandy opened. UMES smelled blood in the water as Jones and Riggin both struck before Vanderbilt could get their second bowler up on the approach. UMES would take an 81 pin lead into the seventh frame. Vandy split twice in the frame while UMES was clean.

In the seventh frame the teams traded opens and strikes and heading into the eighth frame UMES had a 76 pin lead. Vandy used some marks to cut into that lead and trailed by 63 heading to the ninth frame.

Robin Renslow, the Vanderbilt anchor was keeping their ship afloat, stringing together seven strikes at one point. She helped cut into the UMES lead and they trailed the Hawks by 52 heading into the final frame.

In the last frame Buja struck and spared and Vanderbilt matched her. Buja shot an impressive 234 for the match, topping her lead-off counterpart by 56 pins. Jones shot a 170 in the second position, giving up 57 pins to her counterpart. Riggin made up that difference with a 225, beating Vandy's third bowler by 35 pins.

It would come down to the clutch fourth and fifth bowlers. Munoz would strike out and shoot 212 while her counterpart spared and got five, struggling to a 138. Again the match was won in the fourth spot.

Alvarado sealed the deal with a strike on her first ball in the tenth and shot 242. Renslow was a pin better with a 243.

UMES took match three 1083-986, a 97 pin win.

Match 4

In the final match of block one UMES and Central Missouri traded blows early on. Through the first four frames the match was virtually even. The Hawks trailed by 10 pins going into the fifth frame.

Alvarado shot four in a row at one point, but UCM seemed to carry a lot of pins and they would strike when UMES would spare. The Jennies led UMES by 25 pins going into the sixth frame.

Two opens in the sixth by the Hawks were costly and UMES trailed by 59 pins into the seventh frame.

UMES was all strikes in the seventh frame, but Central Missouri got four of their own and built on some previous ones to keep their lead.

No matter what UMES did, Central Missouri matched it or bettered it and going into the tenth frame the Jennies were up 85 pins.

Buja was on again and would finish with a 256 in the match, bettering her opponent by 47 pins. Jones shot a 203 and gave up just 22 pins while Riggin tossed a 194 and gave up 22 pins as well. Thanks to Buja, UMES won the first three frames. Munoz and Alvarado, who had been winning the matches late for UMES couldn't salvage this one.

Munoz struggled to just a 168, giving up 67 pins. Alvarado tossed a 200 but the Central Missouri anchor shot a 246 and they picked up the win 1131-1021.

UMES shot well, but the Jennies were better and gave UMES their first loss of the day.

The Hawks went into a tie for first with Arkansas State, who is also 3-1. Of course UMES topped them to maintain first place heading into the afternoon block, starting at 6:00 p.m. ET. They averaged 1055.5 per team game and all five Hawks were in the top 19 in average for the day. Alvarado was fourth with a 222.5 average while Buja was seventh with a 220.3 average. Munoz posted a 207.8 while Riggin averaged a 205.8. Jones, who was 19th, was the lowest of the Hawks with a 199.3. Not too shabby when all five starters are averaging basically 200 or better.

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