BY JACK RAVITZ
The women’s bowling team advanced to the Elite Eight in Cleveland after defeating Caldwell University 2-1 in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) opening round. The match took place in Millsboro, Del., on April 6.
In their win, Rachael Bamford, Colby Jones, and Alyssa Klassert led the charge.
“Rachael shot an overall great game which helped in the team portion of it. Then we put Alyssa in, who had her best performance of the season and possibly even her career at the perfect time,” said Kregling. “As well as Colby who was steady from start to finish.”
The Elite Eight matchup took place on April 11, against the top seeded team in the country and the defending champions, Vanderbilt University.
Leading up to the match against Vanderbilt, the team had a direct agenda on what they wanted to work on in order to be prepared.
“During practice, we worked on a lot of mental and physical stuff. Mentally, we’ve been working on throwing shots under pressure,” said Bamford. “Physically, our drills have helped with our release and pin point accuracy which will prepare us for when were in the actual moment.”
Heading into the match, Kregling and her team were ready to embrace the underdog role against Vanderbilt.
“We’re really not supposed to be here, and the pressure is not on us,” said Kregling. “I hope everyone can enjoy the opportunity and just play to their best ability and try and brush off the early nerves.”
The players were also excited for the opportunity to play against Vanderbilt. They were still in shock that they were one of the eight remaining teams left in the country.
“Just thinking about it, Sacred Heart University women’s bowling team in the Elite Eight? The thought of that and constantly saying that out loud is pretty awesome,” said Klassert. “You can’t even put it into words, it’s such a cool opportunity for us to be a part of.”
Vanderbilt was viewed by many as the heavy favorite because of the playoff experience they’ve had.
Despite this, experience didn’t play a factor as Sacred Heart was able to fight off Vanderbilt and pull off the shocking upset against the top seed.
Just like the match against Caldwell, it was a total team effort again with many players having an impact.
“If they were nervous, nobody could tell. They did their job repeating shots and staying focused, plus not being intimidated by our top ranked opponent, the crowd, the venue or the atmosphere. It was impressive,” said Kregling.
Kregling said the win was one of her all-time favorite moments as head coach.
“This win is one of the most memorable experiences in my 26 years with the Sacred Heart Women’s Bowling Team,” said Kregling. “Knowing that so many people on-campus were following us on the live stream made it more special.”
The team’s run in the NCAA Tournament would end up coming one win shy of reaching the Final Four. They lost to the University of Nebraska on April 11 and then were eliminated by University of Maryland Eastern Shore on April 12.
The team will look to build off this season and playoff run with their whole roster returning next season.
“Next year feels positively exciting already,” said Kregling.