The top five Hawks

April 18, 2014

RENO, Nev. - They can hold their heads high. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) women's bowling team bowed out of the United States Bowling Congress's (USBC) Intercollegiate Team Championships, taking fifth place and coming one win shy of another semi-final appearance on Thursday night, April 17.

Winning National Championships is hard and frankly the fact that UMES has won four in the last three seasons is nothing shy of remarkable. The success has spoiled the Hawk faithful and sometimes, a loss so close to the end is a painful reminder of just what it takes to win the whole thing.

Which is sometimes more than just skill and hard work. Sometimes it's a little look, or the right break, or in bowling terms, `carry.'

"We tried out best," said head coach Kayla Bandy. "But the pins didn't fall in our last match."

Bandy is referring to the match with Grand View, the fifth seed in the event and an NAIA school from Des Moines, Iowa. "We washed out a lot and just didn't seem to get the breaks, despite throwing good shots."

UMES dug themselves in a big hole early. They dropped the first three games to the Vikings, 181-163, 225-150 and 194-172. "We couldn't string strikes, we were sparing a whole lot or catching splits," Bandy added.

The Hawks finally got it together in the fourth game, rattling off six strikes, including four in a row in the sixth through ninth frames to shoot an impressive 215. The roles were reversed for the game and Grand View shot just 156, getting just three strikes, none together and even fouling once.

Hopefully the luck and momentum was starting to swing.

UMES cut the lead to 3-2 in the match with a game six win 187-178. The Hawks tried to give the game away with an open late in the eighth frame but only two strikes from the Vikings kept UMES on top.

Game six was intense and as close as it could get. The teams were never more than four pins apart until the ninth frame when a split turned into an open for UMES and the Vikings answered with a strike. It was enough and they would go on to take the game 203-188 and the match 4-2.



One more win would have set up another rematch with Pikeville in the `Final Four' style semi-final.

"No one wanted this more than us," said Bandy. "I assure you we wanted to win this, but sometimes it just isn't your time."

UMES made a go of it however, eliminating two more teams before Grand Valley got them.

In the first match of the day they took on Adrian. Like Grand View did to UMES, the Hawks jumped out a 3-0 lead. They dominated game one 255-193, getting strikes in every frame but the sixth.

The other two games weren't anything to brag about as UMES won 173-170 and 174-167. The Hawks opened three times in game four, which explains the 179-159 loss. Adrian got the best of UMES again in game five, 187-167. The Hawks had had enough in game sixth, tossing out a 224-190 win and advancing another round.

In that round things looked bleak for UMES. Despite bowling well, Midland, who had just eliminated top-seed Wichita State, defeated the Hawks 208-192. UMES rebounded to shoot 238 and roll past Midland's 210. The maroon and Grey tossed seven strikes and were clean in the game. The match was tied.

The hot shooting was gone in game three as Midland rolled past UMES 170-160 in a match tied in the ninth frame. Despite an improvement from UMES, Midland won game four 211-194 in game four to take a 3-1 lead.

The Hawk faithful however know better than to just roll over. The team doesn't do things easy.

UMES took advantage of a poor outing in game five to win 169-145 and then shot 202 to Midland's 177 in game six. The match was tied.

The Hawks didn't look like a team that wanted to win early. The opened in both the second and third frames. But Midland opened in the sixth frame and UMES got going. They rattled off five straight strikes to close the match in frames seven through ten and got the 200-194 win as Midland's anchor could not strike out, which would have won the match for them.

In other action, Sacred Heart, the only other NCAA school left standing on Thursday morning fell two Robert Morris-Ill. and then to Lindenwood, finishing in sixth place. Pikeville went on to top Grand View 4-2 and RMU defeated Lindewood in a second match to set up the finals with Pikeville and RMU.

UMES Bowling finishes their season in the top five in both the USBC and NCAA Championships. They lose one senior, Megan Buja (Rockford, Ill.), and while it is a huge loss to lose the senior leadership and All-American talent, the Hawks look to round out their roster to go with four returning starters and make another championship run starting in November.

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