INDIANAPOLIS – The University of Pikeville Bears claimed their first NAIA women’s bowling championship on Sunday with a 3-0, 3-0 sweep of No. 1 seed Webber International University.
The Warriors sent the Bears into the contender’s bracket on Sunday morning with a 3-1 win. The Bears survived Ashford (Iowa) University 3-2 to reach the championship round and then won 3-0 to force a final, deciding round for the title.
“One of our goals this season was to get back here and win this tournament,” said Coach Ron Damron, who has led Pikeville to two USBC titles. “This may be an ‘invitational’ tournament for now, but it’s still a national title. We’re really proud of our ladies and will consider them national champions.”
Bowling is considered an emerging sport in the NAIA, meaning not enough schools are participating to be considered a championship sport. With 50 teams needed to be a championship sport, there are 35 women’s teams and 36 men’s teams competing during the 2011-12 academic year.
The Bears knocked off Webber 166-135, 195-144 and 204-195 to claim the crown.
UPIKE had three open frames in the first game but saw the Warriors leave six empty. But junior Brandy Hensley and senior Kim Yioulos doubled in frames 9-10 to insure the Bears of the win. Five strikes made the second game a little easier, as Yioulos rolled two to lead the way for the 195-144.
Like sharks who could smell blood in the water, the Bears stormed out in the final game with five consecutive strikes and survived two open frames in the second half for the title.
Yioulos had four strikes in the final round and was named to the five-player all-tournament team. Senior Natasha Martin and sophomore Christina Halen had three each, while senior Megan Kyle and junior Brandy Hensley had two each.
Pikeville will now prepare for the USBC Intercollegiate Team Championships, which will be held April 19-21 in Lincoln, Neb.