The top-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores made it difficult on themselves with a loss to Sacred Heart in the opener of the NCAA Bowling Championship on Thursday, but they rallied to win four straight matches to return to the finals for the second year in a row. The Commodores will meet Southland rival Stephen F. Austin at 5:30 PM CT today for the championship.
Vanderbilt started the losers’ bracket of the double-elimination event by dispatching Arkansas State on Thursday afternoon. Then, in a rematch of last year’s final, the Commodores beat McKendree, winning the best-of-seven Baker tiebreaker 4-0, and won the first of two matches against Nebraska on Friday afternoon.
This morning, having to beat the Cornhuskers — which had won both of their matches on Thursday — twice to advance, Vanderbilt won the traditional game 992-947 before Nebraska forced a best-of-7 tiebreaker by winning the Baker match 984-913. Vanderbilt won the first two games of the best-of-7 before Nebraska came back to tie it; the Commodores won the fifth game, and then opened the sixth by rolling eight strikes in a row to clinch a spot in the final.
Stephen F. Austin needed to get through a qualifying match against Prairie View A&M to make it to the championship, but got through matches against Sam Houston State, McKendree, and Maryland-Eastern Shore unscathed to reach the final. The Lumberjacks previously won the NCAA Championship in 2016; Vanderbilt is seeking its third title and second in a row.