The Highland High School girls bowling team had a hugely successful week. The Lady Bulldogs won all three of their Mississippi Valley Conference dual matches before going on to win first place in the gold division of the Southern Illinois Team Challenge, hosted by Belleville East on Saturday.
First, on Tuesday, Dec. 5, Highland traveled to Airport Plaza Bowl in Bethalto and bested the host Civic Memorial Eagles, 25.5 to 14.5.
Next, on Wednesday, Dec. 6, the Lady Bulldogs played host to Mascoutah at Poplar Junction Lanes and dealt the Indians a 24.5 to 15.5 defeat.
Then on Thursday, Highland traveled to West Park Bowl in Columbia and dominated host Waterloo, 33 to 7.
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The three victories lifted the Lady Bulldogs’ overall record to 4-1 and improved Highland’s MVC mark to 3-1.
Finally, on Saturday, the Highland girls captured first place in the gold division at the Belleville East Invitational.
Belleville East tourney
In the afternoon, when bracket play began, Highland was seeded eighth in Southern Illinois Team Challenge, hosted by Belleville East, and had to face top-seeded Belleville West first. The Lady Bulldogs nipped the Maroons 916 to 896.
Highland went on to beat No. 4 Harrisburg by just nine pins, 896 to 887, in the semifinals and get a shot at second-seeded and host Belleville East in the championship. The Lady Bulldogs eased by the host Lancers, 930 to 847, to capture the championship of the tournament’s gold division.
“The girls did not know they were playing the first-place-seeded team in the afternoon. Once we beat them and they found out, there was no stopping them,” Highland coach Laura Wander-Vrell said.
Freshman Molly Marshall earned fifth place overall out of 88 individuals to lead Highland. Marshall fired a 1,271 six-games series, equates to a strong single-game average of 211.833.
Her stellar performance was highlighted by a 257 third game to end her morning series; the score ranked as the second-highest game of the entire day. She finished with a 656 three-game series in the morning, which also included ascending games of 185 and 214 before culminating with the 257.
In the afternoon, Marshall bowled three consistent games of 205, 207 and 203 for a 613 series.
Also bowling solid series that topped 1,000 were senior Emma Schuster and sophomore Kayla Rutz.
Schuster wound up in 13th place overall with a six-game series of 1,151 (191.833 average). She rolled high games of 233, 224, 213 and 181.
Rutz had a 1,077 (179.5 average), which came in 21st place. Her best games were 201, 195 and 191.
In addition, junior Delaney Grimes added a 187 game.
Highland 33, Waterloo 7
At Waterloo, HHS swept all 20 of the match’s team points after winning all three team games and taking the match’s overall pin count by 256 pins, 2,591 to 2,335. Highland also took 13 of the 20 individual points.
Marshall and Schuster were the only two bowlers in the match to top a 600 series.
Marshall ranked first with her 634 three-game aggregate. Her 235 first game also was the highest of the entire match. She finished with games of 210 and 189.
Schuster was just 25 pins back with a 609 series. Her 232 second game was the second best game of the match and she also had a 205 first game.
In addition, Rutz bowled a 513 series with top games of 184 and 178.
Highland 24.5, Mascoutah 15.5
At Poplar Junction Lanes, the Lady Bulldogs won 15 of the 20 team points to help easily offset being edged, 10.5 to 9.5, in the individual points. Highland won the match’s total pin count by just 41 pins, 2,719 to 2,678.
Mascoutah’s Coryne Bean bowled the match’s top series with a 665, which featured games of 231, 225 and 188.
Next up was Schuster, who rolled a 641 series, which was highlighted by the No. 1 game in the match with a 255 middle games. She also finished with a 216 final game.
Also bowling good games for Highland were Rutz (201) and senior Kali Rutz (176).
Highland 25.5, Civic Memorial 14.5
The Lady Bulldogs again captured 15 of the 20 team points and nipped the Eagles 10.5 to 9.5 in individual points.
Schuster bowled the match’s highest series and missed a 600 series by only a single pin with a 599. Her highest games were 235 second game and a 197 first one.
Also rolling good games for the Lady Bulldogs were Marshall (192) and senior Haley Basler (202).