The Bearkats did exactly what they had to do on Day 2 at the NCAA Bowling Championships. Sam Houston won a pair of elimination matches on Friday and are one win away from advancing to their second national championship match.
“Today was about carrying over momentum and staying aggressive,” said head coach Brad Hagen. “We had a tough, tough opponent with Arkansas State who’s bowled well all year. We knew we had to stay aggressive and put pressure on. (Against Vanderbilt) I’m glad we were able to bounce back. We had to hit the recess button and it came together in the end.”
With a win against Arkansas State in the first match of the day, the Bearkats advanced to their fourth semifinal in the last five years. It set up a rematch with Vanderbilt, who beat the Bearkats to open the championship on Thursday morning.
Just like the Thursday match, the Bearkats won the traditional game with Vanderbilt taking the team baker series. In the traditional, Sam Houston edged the Commodores 975-948. Stephanie Zavala led the way with a 222, followed closely by Lynne Fishler who had a 214.
“It was a hard day, but we all stayed focused and we fought for what we wanted,” Fishler said. “We wanted to see tomorrow and even when we had bad games we just come back from it. We practice dealing with stress and being under pressure and I think we showed today we can deal with the pressure.”
After winning the team Baker round, Vanderbilt carried that momentum into the best of seven series, taking the opening game 218-139. But unlike Thursday where Vandy won in 6 games, the Kats took control. A big 224-163 win by the Kats swung momentum in their favor and they never really looked back.
The Kats took a 3-1 lead in the series and then closed out Vanderbilt in the sixth game, getting six straight strikes from the 5th to the 10th frames to close out a 257-235 win. A big part of the success in the best of seven was the addition of Syasya Ismail to the lineup. Ismail subbed in for one shot in the fifth game of the baker set and then never gave the spot back. She had strikes in seven of her 12 frames.
“I was just focused on having a lot more fun and the energy in the team was really good,” said the freshman from Sembawang, Singapore. “The first day was really rough for me, but today I just focused on having a lot more fun and hitting my marks.”
In the opening match of the day against Arkansas State the Kats opened with a big win in the traditional game, winning 988-890. Fishler had her best game of the tournament, bowling a 248 to lead the Bearkats.
In the team bakers, Sam Houston was ahead 394-382 after two games played. Another back-and-forth pair of games pushed Arkansas State ahead by just five (784-779) heading into the fifth game. The Bearkats capitalized, putting up a 200 game to defeat the Red Wolves 200-160, sealing a 979-944 baker win and a 2-0 upset of the No. 3 seed and reigning Southland Champions.