The Wichita State Lady Shockers
won their third straight Hoosier Classic title Sunday, Feb. 21 in Indianapolis, Ind., with 78 men’s teams and 66 women’s team the largest event of the collegiate bowling season.
The tournament features three very unique oil patterns. Teams bowled six games on one pattern Saturday and three more games on a different pattern on Sunday. Then the top eight men’s and women’s teams bowled match play on a third pattern.
Since the men bowled in the morning, the ladies had nearly all day to relax. Bowling began around 4:30 p.m. and the girls knew it would be a late night. The ladies began the day with 973 and it went up from there. They used a huge 1153 game three to put themselves in second place at the end of the day, 50 pins behind leaders Pikeville.
“We had a lot of fun on Saturday and we bowled well. When someone was struggling, there were four other people who were lined up to make sure we didn’t have that one low game,” Wichita native Hollyann Johansen said.
On Sunday, the girls bowled 950, 1055 and 1099 to jump into first and earn the No. 1 seed for the Baker bracket match play, which was best-of-three the first two rounds, then a best-of-seven championship match. As always, match play was the most exciting part of the whole tournament.
Wichita State bowled No. 8 seed Grandview University first. In game one, senior Daria Kovalova (Ukraine) stepped up in the tenth with an opportunity to shut out Grandview with three strikes.
She delivered the first one, but left a 3-6-9 on the second shot. Grandview got the first strike and then left the 1-2-4-8 on the second shot, leaving room for Wichita State to tie. Kovalova stepped up and made the spare and Grandview did too; the game ended in a 193-193 tie.
Game two easily went to the Shockers, 175-142. Game three proved to be exciting again. Grandview struck out in the tenth frame, forcing senior Kovalova to get all three strikes in the tenth to tie. The veteran did what she does best, and delivered three great strikes to tie the third game. With two ties and a win, the Lady Shox won the match 2-1 and advanced to the quarterfinals.
“In game one, I didn’t move enough on the second shot. I knew I needed to make the spare so I double checked the move with Coach L (Lewis). Then I got up there and made it,” senior Kovalova said. “In game three, I misunderstood the format a bit so I didn’t know I needed to strike out. I was pretty relaxed and made three great shots.”
Round two went by pretty quickly, as the ladies swept Wright State 2-0 with games of 176-145 and 205-189.
In a rematch of last year’s title match, Wichita State bowled No. 3 seed Newman University. The Newman Jets fired the last six strikes to win game one, 215-221. Wichita State came back with two wins, 185-138 and 231-178. Newman tied the match at 2-2 in game four as Kovalova split in the tenth, 173-177.
Without losing any momentum, the Lady Shox won game give 194-150. It looked like the match would go to seven games as Newman was leading game six, however a split in the tenth frame opened the door for Wichita State. Once again, senior Kovalova delivered the clutch double to win the game and the match, 4-2.
“I knew I needed to double again to win. I really wasn’t that nervous though. I know these girls have my back, so it makes it pretty easy to bowl. I have been working on changing the way those pressure situations affect me. I changed what I focused on and it seems to be working,” Kovalova said. “I really enjoy drawing on the masking unit, so that was a little more motivation as well.”
Johansen added, “This was the first tournament we started with a really fun attitude and kept that attitude the whole tournament. We want to bring that fun and free attitude to sectionals next month.”
In the men’s finals, No. 2 seed Lindenwood defeated No. 4 Webber International, 4-2, to record the victory. Lindenwood held off Urbana, 2-1, to make it to the finals, while Webber swept Calumet, the top qualifier, in the semifinals, 2-0.
The Shocker men struggled on Saturday and went back to the hotel in 11th place. They never found the momentum on Sunday and finished the tournament in 13th place.
“Finishing 13th really brought to light things that need to be improved,” junior Justin Zwaschka (St. Joe, Mo.) said. “It’s up to us to use the time until sectionals to improve the most we can. We are definitely motivated to do so.”
Individually, the Shockers had three in the top ten. Junior Laura Plazas (Bogotá, Colombia) led the way with a third place finish and was named to the All-Tournament Team. Plazas averaged 217 over nine games.
Sophomore Sydney Brummett (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and junior Kristie López (Ponce, Puerto Rico) finished eighth and ninth with averages of 205, respectively. The men were led by seniors AJ Chapman and Tyler Cruz, who averaged 208 and 200 respectively.
The Hoosier Classic ended the regular season for the Wichita State. On Wednesday, the Shockers will find out where their post season begins. Sectional assignments will be posted on bowl.com on Wednesday, February 24th.
Sectionals will take place on March 12th and 13th in one of four locations. Should the Shockers finish in the top four at their sectional, they will qualify for the Intercollegiate Team Championships, which are held April 20-23 at Northrock Lanes in Wichita, Kan.