No. 3 Fairleigh Dickinson captured its second tournament championship of the season with a win against Vanderbilt in the championship round of the New Jersey Jamboree. The Knights finished the weekend with a 9-4 record and improve to 22-5 on the season.
Junior Danielle McEwan and sophomore Michelle Hunzaker were named to the All-Tournament Team for the second-consecutive week. McEwan finished second in the individual standings with an average of 216.6, while Hunzaker finished tied for fourth with a 213 average. Vanderbilt’s Brittni Hamilton led the field of 119 bowlers with an average of 220.2.
The Knights faced Vanderbilt in a best-of-seven Baker match in the opening round of playoff competition. The Knights were ranked first after two days of play, while the Commodores earned second place in the standings.
Both teams struggled to string strikes together in game one. FDU trailed through nine frames and even with three strikes from junior Danielle McEwan in the tenth, the Knights dropped game one, 197-187.
In game two, FDU upperclassmen Joely Carrillo, Meghan Kelly and McEwan put seven strikes together to take the win, 196-133 and even the series at one.
The Commodores built momentum early on in game three and used it to carry them through the match. VU took games three, four and five by scores of 190-172, 172-160, and 211-168 to win the match, 4-1 and advance to the championship game.
The Knights faced Sam Houston State in round two. The winner earned a spot in the championship game against Vanderbilt.
Tough lane conditions once again stopped both teams from stringing strikes together and producing high scores. The Knights and Bearkats split the first two games to even the series at one going into game three.
The Knights earned a big win in game three after compiling four-consecutive strikes midway through the game. SHSU finished with three strikes and a spare but could not catch the Knights’ score of 225.
FDU carried the momentum into game four. A strike from Kelly in frame one and a strong performance in the last five frames enabled the Knights to pick up the win, 202-177 and take a lead, three games to one.
Sam Houston did not back down, and fought for wins in games five and six to tie the series at three.
After initially trailing in game seven, the Knights needed momentum to move them forward. Junior Brianna Carlo came off the bench and complemented Carrillo’s fourth-frame strike with one of her own, giving the Knights the surge they needed. McEwan finished the game with two strikes to give FDU a 212-137 win and a trip to the tournament finals for the second-consecutive weekend.
“This was an extraordinary weekend for many of our players,” mentioned LoPresti. “Brianna Carlo came off the bench to spark us during semifinals. Once Bri was in, she never came out because she was so effective. Her performance was huge; she was the difference.”
The Knights defeated the Commodores by just one pin in the first game but found their stride in game two. The Knights started with an eight-pin spare and only got better through game two, giving them confidence and composure as they headed into game three.
FDU left a match-high four frames open in the third game, giving Vanderbilt control of the game. The Commodores took game three by four pins.
The teams tied game four, each with a score of 170, moving the series to 2.5-1.5.
The Knights scored big in the final two games, stringing four strikes together in game five and recording four strikes in five frames during the final game. Vanderbilt struggled to connect filled frames and ultimately fell, 4.5-1.5
It was the Knights’ second-consecutive championship at the N.J. Jamboree as they won the event in 2010.
“It took everything we had to overcome our opponents and the lane conditions today,” explained LoPresti. “I am so proud of how we performed in crunch time. You can only win big matches by making big shots in big spots. Today we were able to do that.”