Canton, Mich. -- The Nebraska bowling team captured its fourth NCAA title in school history Saturday night, as the top-ranked Huskers defeated Vanderbilt, 4.5-2.5 (211-199, 166-197, 156-169,190-190, 202-182, 246-200) at Super Bowl Lanes in Canton, Mich., in front of a national television audience.
The Huskers have won four NCAA titles since bowling became an NCAA sanctioned sports in 2003, while tonight’s title was the first for Nebraska since 2009. NU also won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2004 and 2005. In the first 10 years of NCAA sponsorship, the Huskers have finished first or second five times.
Nebraska Head Coach Bill Straub was overjoyed with emotion after the victory, holding back tears in an interview following the title match, as the Huskers rallied from a 2.5-1.5 deficit by winning the final three games.
“This was a real struggle and the lanes were tough tonight.” Straub said, “What ended up helping us was our team was so strong tonight and held together when things got tough.”
The Huskers were led by junior Yan Ling, as she recorded nine strikes while leaving no empty frames to help seal the victory for NU in the best-of-seven baker format where each team member bowls two frames.
“She was money out of all night long. She was so calm tonight. She couldn’t have been better, and I couldn’t be more proud of her.” Straub said.
The Huskers started off strong in game one, with sophomore Elise Bolton and Ling each recording two strikes in both of their attempts. The game came down to the final frame with NU edging VU 211-199. Lizabeth Kuhlkin recorded two strikes in the 10th frame to seal the game for the Huskers.
Game two saw a see-saw battle on the lanes, with Nebraska taking a two-point lead at the midway break. Vanderbilt fought back to take the game, 197-186, despite leaving one open frame in the game.
Both the Huskers and Commodores came out sloppy in game three, leaving a combined five open frames during the game. Despite leaving two open, frames Vanderbilt posted a 169-156 victory. The Huskers only had a pinfall of 70 through five frames, recording back-to-back-to-back open frames.
VU came out on fire in the fourth game, opening with three straight spares and a strike. The Commodores left a, open frame to close out the fifth frame, as the Huskers capitalized. NTCA First-Team All-American Kuhlkin recorded a clutch strike to keep the Huskers within one. NU fought back valiantly, as Bolton started it off with a strike in the sixth frame. The Huskers recorded three straight spares and a clutch strike by Kuhlkin in the 10th frame tied the game at 190. The resulting tie gave each team a half point to give Vanderbilt a 2.5-1.5 lead.
Nebraska got back on the winning track in the fifth game, beating Vanderbilt, 196-189, in a close battle throughout. Both Ling and Kuhlkin led the Huskers combining for three strikes on their four attempts. Sophomore Andrea Ruiz tallied her first strike of the championship match in the eighth frame to help the Huskers seal the victory.
In game six, the Huskers and Commodores gave the fans in Canton and on ESPNU a show, providing a see-saw battle through the first five frames before the Huskers took control. NU recorded a turkey, as Ling, Ruiz and Mickelson came up with consecutive strikes in the seventh through ninth frames to seal a 202-182 victory.
Nebraska kept the momentum going in the finale, marking in all 10 frames, including six consecutive strikes to post a 246-200 victory and earn the national title. The team huddled in tears overcome with joy celebrating their fourth NCAA title.
Liz Kuhlkin and Elise Bolton were both named to the All Tournament Team. Kuhlkin recieved Most Outstanding Bowler.