Nashville, TN – It was a weekend of inconsistency for the SHU women's bowling team as the second ranked team in the nation finished fifth at the prestigious Columbia 300 Music City Classic. The Pioneers finished the event with an 8-7 record that included a five game skid that will likely result in anxious moments for SHU during the women's bowling NCAA Selection Show, which is just weeks away. Sophomore Nicole Trudell (Coventry, RI), the reigning National Rookie of the Year, was rock solid all weekend for Sacred Heart, finishing second in the individual rankings with a 210 average.
Sacred Heart (71-34) began the tournament with four straight victories on day one, which featured matches that consisted of four baker games. Those wins all came over ranked opposition as SHU defeated #7 Vanderbilt, #10 Stephen F. Austin, #9 Sam Houston State, and #17 Alabama A&M. However, the first day of competition would end on a sour note as the Pioneers ran into a pair of red hot teams. #6 Central Missouri and Louisiana Tech both downed the Pioneers with two of the higher sets of the entire tournament.
SHU was unable to immediately bounce back in day two's team game competition as the five match slide finished with losses to #3 Valparaiso, #4 Arkansas State, and Prairie View A&M. The Pioneers got back in the win column with an 896-835 triumph over UAB. However, eventual tournament champions #8 Nebraska were waiting in the wings and dealt Sacred Heart a 970-939 defeat. SHU was able to close out the day with a "W" as Trudell rolled a 244 and Savannah Zientara (Lewiston, NY) posted a 215 in a 978-945 win over #15 Wisconsin-Whitewater.
The Pioneers entered the bracket portion of competition, contested under a best of seven baker games format, as the sixth seed. SHU was swept in the opening round by #9 Sam Houston State. However, the red and white went on to return the favor by dispatching of #3 Valparaiso in four straight games. Sacred Heart got a measure of revenge in the final match of the weekend as they again squared off with #9 SHSU, this time with fifth place on the line.
The two sides were level at 2.5 a piece after tying the fifth game of the series with a pair of 197's. SHU dominated the final two games of the set, 204-164 and 199-166, to claim the 4.5-2.5 victory and claim fifth place.
Sacred Heart will have one more chance to make a statement to the selection committee for a bid to the 2012 NCAA Tournament at the Northeast Conference Tournament next weekend. The Pioneers will enter the event as the #2 seed in a conference that currently boasts eight nationally ranked teams.