Bowling team finishes fourth in NEC tournament

Luke Henne | Sports Editor

March 31, 2022

After dropping two contests, the Duquesne bowling team finished in fourth place at last week’s Northeast Conference Women’s Bowling Championship at Hamilton Lanes & Entertainment Center in Hamilton Township, N.J.

The Dukes — ranked No. 12 in the NCAA’s March 22 Ratings Power Index (RPI) poll — fell to No. 11 Mount St. Mary’s in the opening match on March 24 before losing to No. 20 Long Island in Friday’s elimination match.

Duquesne Head Coach Jody Fetterhoff, while disappointed in the outcome, knew that the opponents would be formidable.

“We bowled really well but split at the wrong times, and credit goes to Mount and LIU for capitalizing on those mistakes,” Fetterhoff said.

“… It’s definitely hard to bowl so well, yet it wasn’t enough to win our matches.”

Shannon Small said that while she and her teammates competed hard, their opponents delivered when it mattered most.

“Individually and team wise, I feel like we all did really well,” Small said. “We shot a lot of high games and made our spares, but the other teams just seem to have been able to string strikes at more crucial times than we were.”

Thursday’s action between the Mountaineers and Dukes got underway with a traditional round in which Mount St. Mary’s bested Duquesne by a pin count of 1129-1084. In the defeat, all five Duquesne bowlers posted a 200 or better: Jessica Cadez at 233, Ranelle Ulanday at 227, Olivia Farwell at 212, Small at 210 and Kiearra Saldi at 202.

Duquesne bounced back in the baker round, winning by a pin count of 1138-938 to even the contest.

However, the Mountaineers used a 4-2 edge in the best-of-7 round to win the overall contest by a 2-1 count and move into the winner’s bracket, while the Dukes were pushed to the brink of elimination from the tournament.

In Friday’s elimination match, Duquesne came out strong against Long Island, winning the traditional round with a 1209-1065 win over the Sharks. Aided by performances from Farwell (278) and Cadez (256), Duquesne’s pin total of 1209 set a school record.

However, Long Island swiftly bounced back, grabbing victories in the baker round (total pin count of 1106-1080) and the best-of-7 round (4-1) to stay alive in the conference tournament, subsequently removing Duquesne from title contention.

Despite coming away without a win, players like Saldi said the weekend was an enjoyable one.

“The experience itself is always an exciting and intense competition,” Saldi said. “We bowl against these teams throughout the season, so we know the tough competition that we are up against, which always makes for a suspenseful and highly anticipated tournament.

“We are very lucky to be in this conference and have the opportunity to compete against these other amazing bowlers.”

Players like Cadez feel that, while their performance at the tournament wasn’t what they’d hoped for, that shouldn’t be a defining moment.

“A few costly splits in the wrong places slowly started to dwindle our chances of moving onto the next round,” Cadez said.

Cadez also said that she hoped that, based on performance throughout the season, the Dukes did enough to earn an at-large spot in the NCAA Tournament.

After failing to receive the NEC’s automatic qualifier spot in the 2022 NCAA Division III Bowling Championship, the Dukes’ fate rested on the possibility of earning an at-large spot.

Prior to the tournament field being announced on Wednesday, Fetterhoff was slightly pessimistic about her team’s chances of getting to extend the season in the tournament.

“While I unfortunately think we might be the first team out since Sacred Heart got the automatic bid and FDU [Fairleigh Dickinson] and Mount are ahead of us in the RPI, I’m hoping the committee takes into consideration our whole resume and not just the RPI,” Fetterhoff said.

On Wednesday, Fetterhoff’s pessimism became reality. Sacred Heart, Fairleigh Dickinson and Mount St. Mary’s made it into the 16-team field, while Duquesne did not.

Regardless, the team will still get to compete at the Intercollegiate Team Championships in Addison, Ill., with the event set to span from April 18-23.

At 63-34, Fetterhoff instilled a blueprint for success this season, predicated on cohesiveness.

“I think it’s just our belief in ourselves and each other,” Fetterhoff said. “We have a very close-knit team, and they all support one another.

“… They understand what we are trying to accomplish and that we can only achieve that if we all work together and be great teammates, both on and off the lanes.”