HAWKS CONTINUE QUEST TO REPEAT; GO 2-0 IN OPENING SESSION
Freshman Mariana Alvarado was a big part of the Hawks early success.
Freshman Mariana Alvarado was a big part of the Hawks early success.

April 13, 2012

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WICKLIFFE, Ohio - The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) came two steps closer to defending their National Championship today, winning both of their opening matches in the double elimination portion of the 2012 Women's Bowling Championship. The Hawks topped fourth-seeded Sacred Heart 4-3 to open the day and then followed it up with a 4.5-1.5 topping of top-seeded Vanderbilt.

The Hawks, seeded fifth, came out on fire to open the day, building a 3-0 lead on fourth-seeded Sacred Heart. UMES topped the Pioneers 206-171, 214-183 and 212-202 before `letting their foot off the gas' for the next several matches, allowing Sacred Heart to tie the match at three all.

"We let up," said Assistant Coach Vince Brummell. "We let them back in instead of finishing them off in four."

While the Hawks didn't bowl bad in that stretch Sacred Heart got a boost of momentum to take games four five and six by scores of 235-218, 212-191 and 206-191. Game four was the closest but an open frame in the first by lead-of bowler Paula Vilas (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) spelled the difference.

"I could kick myself for leaving that," said Vilas. "But my teammates picked me up. We bowled really well as a team today."

UMES clinched the win in game seven, taking advantage of an open in the first frame by the Pioneers and their inability to throw strikes, coming up with just two in the game. In contrast, UMES threw five strikes, three coming after Megan Buja (Rockford, Ill.) left an open in the second on a seven-split. UMES got the win 205-183.

Head Coach Kristina Frahm juggled the lineup today from yesterday, leading-off Vilas just as she did at last year's championships and moving Anggie Ramirez (Bogota Colombia) to the third spot, taking some of the starting pressure off of her. It worked because top to bottom the team was one, putting up some of the best pinfalls on the day, striking if an open was left and picking up their teammates when they needed it most.

"I was really proud of them," said Frahm. "We bowled as a team. We talked about it, got on the same page and good things happened."

The Hawks carried their momentum into the match-up with top-seeded Vanderbilt. After jumping out to an early lead, throwing four strikes in the first five frames, the Commodores seemed poised to take a game one win. But they followed that with two spares and an open, opening the door for the Hawks.

UMES left two eight-splits in the fifth and sixth frames but finished with six straight strikes, three coming from anchor bowler T'nia Falbo (Greensburg, Pa.), forcing Vanderbilt to strike out. They did, but the best they could do was tie it, giving each team a half game.

Game two was all Hawks. UMES threw eight strikes and three spares to finish with a 247. Vandy managed just a 170 with three eight-splits. To their credit, the Commodores picked up two of them, but finished with a split in the tenth and never really got going.

The third game was more of the same as the Hawks threw seven strikes and were clean except for the fifth and fill ball in the tenth from Falbo. No one worried however, as Falbo had been on all day and Vandy shot a 172 leaving three open frames.

UMES took a commanding advantage in the fourth game, going up 3.5-1.5 with a 221-196 win.

In game five however Vanderbilt got the win, rolling six strikes in a row to start the game. But UMES never got down. After the Commodores threw an eight-split in the seventh and then three more spares, UMES had a chance. Buja, Ramirez, Mariana Alvarado (Leon, Mexico) and Falbo tossed five straight strikes to force Vanderbilt to get some count in the tenth. UMES fell 242-236 but kept their momentum going.

"That was my favorite game," said Brummell. "Because we never gave up, we kept bowling and we forced them to do the same, it was critical to our momentum."

In game six the Hawks dealt the final blow putting together seven strikes and holding Vandy to three to pick up the 226-183 win, winning the watch 4.5 games to 1.5 games.

The win keeps the Hawks in the winners bracket, guaranteeing at least a fourth place finish but more importantly making sure they bowl tomorrow as well. UMES will bowl the winner of Valparaiso and Nebraska at 5:40 p.m. tonight. Win or lose they will bowl on Saturday, either at noon in an `if necessary' match or straight to the finals at 8:00 p.m.

All the action can be seen live on NCAA.com