WICKLIFFE, Ohio - Saturday night's national championship match will feature two teams that are ultimately familiar with one another.

Fairleigh Dickinson won the right to face fellow east coast rival Maryland-Eastern Shore for the title after FDU defeated top-seed Vanderbilt in a grueling, emotional seven-game match (236-234, 210-229, 187-225, 279-212, 221-236, 227-148, 204-183) Saturday afternoon at Freeway Lanes.

The two teams met in numerous tournaments during the season with each team getting wins over the other. When they met in the first round of this tournament, FDU won the traditional five-bowler, one-game match handily, 1,066-880. However, this match will be under Baker-style best-of-seven rules, a format where UMES has excelled this week, going undefeated to reach the championship match.

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP
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Day 1: Vanderbilt earns early lead

FDU head coach Mike LoPresti expects quite a battle.

"They're a highly competitive team," LoPresti said. "They've been to this tournament every single time [it's been held]. So that speaks highly of them. They're the defending national champions, too. So that's a lot of juice right there. There's a lot of energy that goes with that.

"We know that it's going to be tough," he said. "We've had pretty good success against them this year, but we haven't bowled them in a couple of months, but I think it's going to be a great match."

UMES coach Kristina Frahm said Friday night after her team reached the final that whomever her team faced Saturday night, the strategy would be the same.

"We don't bowl the person on the lane next to us, we bowl ourselves," she said. "We had a little meeting and I told them to just bowl to your potential. That's why you're here. That's the reason you made it, not because of the other teams.

"They know they can compete with any team out there," she said.

Frahm will try to become the first person in history to win national championships as both a bowler and a head coach. If UMES successful defends its title, she will have accomplished the feat in consecutive seasons.

The Hawks won three consecutive matches on Friday to reach the final after entering the Baker portion as a sixth seed following a disappointing performance in the opening-day sessions.

After Friday's win, junior T'nia Falbo, who threw the clinching strike to defeat Nebraska to get her team into the final, says her team is motivated this week by what they felt was a slight by the NTCA coaches' poll, which ranked UMES eighth heading into this tournament.

We don't bowl the person on the lane next to us, we bowl ourselves....
-- UMES head coach Kristina Frahm

"When the new poll came out we saw that we had dropped to eighth," Falbo said. "That added fuel to our fire. We wanted to show people that we are not an eighth-place team and I think we did just that."

As you might expect from two teams that have won four national championship between them over the past nine seasons, the gravity of Saturday's night's final is not lost on them.

"Six months of preparation now comes to the pinnacle of our sport, competing for a national championship and boy, is it exciting," LoPresti said. "It is something that we've worked really hard to achieve - and now it's here."

Frahm is able to call on very recent experience, as she was a member of UMES' national championship team last season. Falbo said Friday that may be the difference for the Hawks.

"It's nice to have someone [as our coach] who knows what it feels like to win," Falbo said. "She knows what were going through. She's lived this."