Bowling’s historic season comes to an end

Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Duquesne’s Kiearra Saldi (No. 23) celebrates with her teammates during Saturday’s elimination round contest against Stephen F. Austin in the NCAA Bowling Championship.

Luke Henne | Editor-in-Chief

April 13, 2023

The Duquesne women’s bowling team earned its second trip to the NCAA Bowling Championship in program history. However, they bowed out after losing to Nebraska and Stephen F. Austin in last weekend’s double-elimination regional round at AMF Mt. Lebanon Lanes.

The Dukes defeated the Ladyjacks on Friday morning before falling to the Cornhuskers later that day.

On Saturday, needing to win to stay alive, Duquesne won the traditional round against Stephen F. Austin 1022-946 before the Ladyjacks claimed the Baker round (a round of bowling where a team rotates who bowls) 952-887. Then, Stephen F. Austin won the Best-of-7 Baker round in seven games to take the overall match 2-1.

The Dukes were eliminated from the tournament, but historic moments throughout the season were in abundance.

For the seventh-consecutive season, Head Coach Jody Fetterhoff guided the team to a winning record — they currently sit at 70-32. Duquesne also became just the third program in school history to earn multiple bids to the NCAA Tournament, joining men’s basketball (five) and football (two).

This year also brought just the second tournament win in program history. Kiearra Saldi, who was named Second Team All-Northeast Region and First Team All-Northeast Conference, said that “this is a really big moment for us right now” following Friday’s win over Stephen F. Austin.

“That was the goal,” Saldi said. “That’s probably the hardest part — that first match, getting it out of the way. It’s a really uplifting moment, and we kept the energy strong all game.

“We didn’t let ourselves get down. That was really important for us.”

This year’s Duquesne squad earned a share of the Northeast Conference’s regular-season title for the first time in the program’s seven-year history. Fetterhoff was named the NEC Coach of the Year.

The moment and the successful season was not lost on Fetterhoff, who said prior to the tournament that the team was “extremely happy to be here.”

“The hard part is getting here, so they’ve done that,” Fetterhoff said. “And now it’s just about having fun and showing everybody who we are.”

She also took great pride in knowing the history her team made when it came to becoming the school’s third program to make multiple trips to the NCAA Tournament.

“It means everything,” Fetterhoff said. “These girls work so hard. To see them get rewarded with this and to be recognized on a national stage [means a lot].

“This is the seventh year of the program. It’s just exciting. I see how hard they work every day. I’m just happy for them to be here, and I just want, so much for them, to be able to hold a championship trophy at the end of the day.”

While the team didn’t hoist the championship trophy, they’ve set themselves up for success in the coming years. Saldi is one of the team’s most-decorated players, but she is the only senior on the team’s roster.

Of the team’s 70 victories, 23 came against ranked opponents. They’ve proved that they can hang with strong competition.

Even this weekend’s two opponents are among the NCAA’s elite.

With six national championships, Nebraska boasts the most titles of any bowling program in the country. Stephen F. Austin has won two titles and was the finalist in 2022.

Duquesne’s season will culminate with the Intercollegiate Singles and Team Championships, which begins this Sunday in Las Vegas.