(Left to right - Shannon Pluhowsky, Diana Zavjalova, Liz Johnson, Shannon O'Keefe and Kelly Kulick)
ROCKFORD, Ill. - Team USA member Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, conquered a challenging lane condition and bested some of the best female bowlers in the world on the way to the top seed for the stepladder finals of the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America Women's All-Star Tournament.
The 31-year-old left-hander averaged 218.5 in her 16 games of match play Thursday at The Cherry Bowl on the way 14-2 record. She entered the day in third place and settled into the top spot with a 7,713 total for 34 games this week, which includes 30 bonus pins for each win in match play.
Diana Zavjalova of Latvia earned the No. 2 seed for the stepladder finals with a 7,564 total and was followed by 2013 U.S. Women's Open champion Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, New York (7,485), Team USA member Shannon O'Keefe of Arlington, Texas (7,321) and 2014 United States Bowling Congress Queens runner-up Kelly Kulick of Union, New Jersey (7,293).
The battle for the $15,000 top prize will continue live on BowlTV on Friday at noon EDT.
"The more games you bowl, the better, because you get more comfortable, find which balls work best and learn the differences from pair to pair," said Pluhowsky, the lone southpaw in the top 16 this week. "With a condition this difficult, my goals really were just to throw it well enough to get nine and stay clean. Of course, getting the No. 1 seed is key because you only have to bowl one more game."
The field at this week's BPAA All-Star included 75 bowlers, who all bowled 18 qualifying games over three days, before being cut to the top 16 players for 16 games of round-robin match play.
The Women's All Star Tournament, which began in 1971, was the pre-cursor to Bowling's U.S. Women's Open, which is on hiatus until 2015. This year's event showcased today's top talent, highlighted the history of women's bowling and celebrated the 40th anniversary of formation of the Ladies Pro Bowling Tour.
Bowling's U.S. Open officially will return in 2015 after USBC and BPAA agreed to a three-year deal that will see USBC operate and conduct the U.S. Open for men and women in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
As part of the agreement, USBC and BPAA each will contribute at least $100,000 annually toward operating the events. Further details will be announced at a later date.
The excitement at The Cherry Bowl this week included the 2014 Bowling's Senior Women's U.S. Open, which was held simultaneously using the same format. That event was decided earlier Thursday with Paula Vidad of Sun City, California, successfully defending her title with a 234-210 win over USBC Hall of Famer Tish Johnson of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
For more information on the BPAA All-Star Tournament and Bowling's Senior Women's U.S. Open, visitBPAA.com/tournaments.
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2014 BPAA WOMEN'S ALL STAR
The Cherry Bowl, Rockford, Illinois
Thursday's match play standings (with hometown and pinfall):
1, Shannon Pluhowsky, Dayton, Ohio, 7,713.
2, Diana Zavjalova, Latvia, 7,564.
3, Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 7,485.
4, Shannon O'Keefe, Arlington, Texas, 7,321.
5, Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J., 7,293.
Other Cashers (Did not advance):
6, Diandra Asbaty, Chicago, 7,238. $2,250
7, Wendy Macpherson, Henderson, Nev., 7,173. $2,000
8, Cassandra Leuthold, Black Hawk, S.D., 7,160. $1,750
9, Brittni Hamilton, Webster, N.Y., 7,137. $1,500
10, Missy Parkin, Laguna Hills, Calif., 7,125. $1,400
11, Elysia Current, Wichita, Kan., 7,092. $1,300
12, Jodi Woessner, Oregon, Ohio, 7,079. $1,200
13, Danielle McEwan, Stony Point, N.Y., 7,061. $1,150
14, Jennifer Higgins, Westerville, Ohio, 7,024. $1,100
15, Marcia Kloempken, Pleasant View, Utah, 6,960. $1,050
16, Alexis Ijams, Wichita, Kan., 6,643. $1,000
(BOLD = Storm and Roto Grip Staff)