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ARLINGTON, Texas – The Miami Waves and Phoenix Fury finished in fifth and sixth place in their respective divisions Saturday, as qualifying concluded for the 2020 Professional Bowlers Association League.
Both teams, made up entirely of Professional Women’s Bowling Association champions, will be bowling in Sunday’s quarterfinals, live on FS1.
The Waves and Fury are the newest additions to the 12-team league in 2020.
Qualifying took place at Bowlero Centreville in Centreville, Virginia, and featured 12 Baker games, including bonus pins, to determine seeding heading into single-elimination match play.
The top two teams in each six-team division – Anthony and Carter – received byes into the semifinals, while the other four teams in each division will compete in Sunday’s quarterfinals. The Anthony Division quarterfinal will take place at noon Eastern, and the matches in the Carter Division will be at 7 p.m. EDT.
The Waves finished Saturday’s qualifying round with a 2,886 total to earn the No. 5 seed in the Anthony Division and will face the No. 4 Brew City Ballers on Sunday. The Fury posted a 2,905 total and took the No. 6 seed in the Carter Division. Phoenix will bowl three-time PBA League champion Silver Lake Atom Splitters, the No. 3 seed.
The Waves roster features Danielle McEwan, Dasha Kovalova, Clara Guerrero, Liz Kuhlkin and Missy Parkin. The Fury lineup includes Shannon O’Keefe, Liz Johnson, Jordan Richard, Stefanie Johnson and Maria José Rodriguez.
Miami is managed by Bob Learn Jr., a five-time PBA Tour champion and part of the 2020 United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame class. The Fury are led by USBC Hall of Famer and 10-time PWBA Tour titlist Kim Kearney.
Kovalova, a two-time champion during the 2019 PWBA Tour season, rolled strikes in 18 of her 24 frames Saturday to pace the Waves. She credited the team’s communication during the block in helping avoid any prolonged struggles. The Waves posted only two games under 200 on Saturday and averaged nearly 220.
In the Baker format, each player only gets to bowl two frames each game.
“I think we worked together really well today,” Kovalova said. “Our communication was great, and we really saw the pattern well throughout the day. When we saw the transition, we were able to make the moves a little quicker. We didn’t carry as well as we would have liked on some pairs, but I think we did great as a team.”
Learn echoed the quality of the team’s communication Saturday and took away a lot of positives to focus on in match play.
The quarterfinals and semifinals of the 2020 PBA League will be contested as two-game Baker matches. If the matches are tied after two games, a one-ball roll-off will decide which team advances to the next round.
“I felt like we had a pretty good control of the pocket all day, and outside of a few unfortunate frames, we weren’t too far away from having a really big day,” Learn said. “I think we have the right type of chemistry and right things intact to be successful on the TV shows. We drilled some balls today to try and fill some of the gaps we saw and should be better prepared heading into the show.
“I felt great about the whole day. I’m happy with our overall performance and feel like we did a lot of things right. I thought some of the men’s teams lost control of the pocket off and on during the transition and that we had a little better control of it as a whole, which will be one of our strengths moving forward. We only gave up one spare today, and I loved their work ethic and communication. That’s what it takes to make it all work.”
The Fury followed a similar path as the Waves, posting just two games under 200 and averaging 220 for the 12 Baker games.
Richard, the 2018 PWBA Rookie of the Year, matched Kovalova’s effort, striking 18 times in 24 attempts Saturday to lead the way.
Kearney felt confident that the team would quickly mesh once on the lanes at Bowlero Centreville, and the Fury posted four games of 235 or higher during qualifying.
She knows there will be a smaller margin for error heading into the two-game match against the Atom Splitters on Sunday but is confident the Fury will find the right look to advance.
“We expected the familiarity between the players to help this week, and the communication was really good today,” Kearney said. “I think the group was happy to be out there and competing again, so we had a lot of fun today.
“Overall, it felt like we were all lined up for only a couple of games, so we’ll have to get better with that looking ahead, since two games will go very quickly. That will be the key tomorrow. We’ll have to get to a place where it’s easy enough to get to the pocket, but also figure out how to strike when we get there.”
In 2020, the PBA League is made up of the top players from both the PBA Tour and PWBA Tour. The Waves and Fury are made up of athletes who competed on the PWBA Tour during the 2019 season, finished in the top 35 in the season-long points list and were selected during a formal draft.
Qualifying was contested across six pairs of lanes, with one team per pair in each division. In addition to total pinfall, teams received bonus pins based on the rank of its team score each game. The team with the highest score for each game received 50 bonus pins. The second-highest score received 40 pins, third received 30 pins, fourth received 20 pins, fifth received 10 pins and the team with the lowest total received no bonus pins that game. Qualifying rounds were broadcast live on FloBowling.
The Motown Muscle led the Anthony Division with a 3,326 total, while the defending PBA League champion Portland Lumberjacks also earned a first-round bye with a 3,247 total. The other matches Sunday in the Anthony Division will feature L.A. X taking on the NYC KingPins.
The Philadelphia Hitmen earned the top spot in the Carter Division with a 3,200 score, and two-time Elias Cup champion Dallas Strikers finished second with 3,050. The No. 4-No. 5 match Sunday in the Carter Division will be the Las Vegas High Rollers against Brooklyn Styles.
The semifinals in the Anthony Division and Carter Division will be Monday at 7 p.m. Eastern and 9 p.m. Eastern, respectively, live on FS1. The division finals will be Tuesday at 7 p.m. Eastern, and the PBA League finals will be Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern, all on FS1.
The championship round between the Anthony and Carter Division champions will be contested using a best-of-five Baker format to determine the winner of the 2020 Elias Cup.