WICHITA, Kan. – After completing a successful collegiate career at Wichita State University, the Ukraine’s Dasha Kovalova has made her home in The Air Capital of the World and will have the chance to bowl for the title at the 2019 United States Bowling Congress Queens in a familiar venue at Northrock Lanes.
The 24-year-old right-hander defeated Malaysia’s Sin Li Jane, 662-636, to remain undefeated in match play at the 2019 USBC Queens and earn the top seed for the stepladder finals, which will be broadcast live Tuesday at 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network.
Sin will enter the stepladder as the No. 2 seed, while Colombia’s Clara Guerrero, Singapore’s Daphne Tan and Indonesia’s Tannya Roumimper round out the all-international championship round after advancing from a four-player elimination final Monday.
The USBC Queens is the first major championship of the 2019 Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour season and will award the winner the coveted tiara and $20,000 top prize.
Kovalova was a standout during her time with the Shockers, earning National Collegiate Bowling Coaches Association (NCBCA) All-America honors in each of her four years in the program. Her collegiate career concluded in 2016, and she’s now a full-time player on the PWBA Tour.
She’ll be searching for her first career PWBA Tour title in a place that’s very close to her, and she hopes to be able to share in her success with the community.
“This means a lot to me,” said Kovalova, the 2014-2015 NCBCA Player of the Year. “The crowd here has been really strong, and they’ve been cheering me on. It really shows how important support can be. I graduated from WSU, so this is a tribute and a way for me to give something back for everything the program gave me for four years.”
Kovalova kicked off Monday’s opening round with a 300 game against Brandi Branka of Belleville, Illinois, and she averaged nearly 230 in her final three wins on the way to the top spot. In all, Kovalova won six matches on the way to the top seed.
This week’s 39-foot lane condition allowed her to show off some of the aspects of her game she’s tried to improve upon in preparation for the 2019 season.
“I really liked it because it allowed me to play outside with softer speed,” Kovalova said. “It’s a thing I was practicing in the offseason, so I’m really happy I was able to put it into play this week. Usually, as my college teammates know, I like to play up 15 and roll it, so I think this shows some of my versatility.”
In addition to her added versatility, she’s also happy to have found some success in the event’s double-elimination bracket. She advanced to match play at the Queens in each of the previous four years, but the 2017 event in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was the only time she won more than one match. She finished tied for ninth place.
“I’ve struggled at the Queens,” Kovalova said. “I really haven’t been able to get through the matches, so the fact that I was able to do that today shows how much I’ve improved and learned.”
Sin, the winner of the 2017 PWBA Lincoln Open, posted the highest match-play average in tournament history on the way to earning the No. 2 seed. In six matches, she averaged 248.72, surpassing USBC Hall of Famer Kim Terrell-Kearney’s mark of 240 set during the 2002 event.
This year’s championship round also marks the second time since 2016 that the stepladder finals at the Queens will feature players from five different countries. Singapore’s Bernice Lim claimed the title in 2016, defeating Sweden’s Sandra Andersson. Sin also advanced to the stepladder in 2016, finishing in fifth place.
Guerrero earned the No. 3 seed with a 681 series in the special shootout match that included the final four players from the elimination bracket. Tan will be the No. 4 seed after rolling a 671 set and will face Roumimper in the opening match after she finished with 644.
Josie Barnes of Nashville, Tennessee, wasn’t able to find a look until the final game of the shootout and finished in sixth place overall after a 550 series.
On her way through the elimination bracket, Roumimper also connected for the highest three-game set ever rolled in match play at the Queens, an 822 series that included, games of 267, 255 and 300 and lifted her past England’s Verity Crawley.
A total of 192 bowlers from 17 countries competed in three five-game blocks of qualifying over three days this week to determine the 63 players who joined defending champion Shannon O’Keefe of Shiloh, Illinois, in the bracket.
O’Keefe, the 2018 PWBA Player of the Year, made a strong run through the elimination bracket Sunday and Monday, before falling to Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio, 651-566, to finish in ninth place.
Each bracket match leading up to the stepladder included three games, with total pinfall determining which player advanced. The televised portion of the event will feature one-game matches.
All rounds of competition leading up to the stepladder finals were broadcast at BowlTV.com.
For more information on the USBC Queens, visit BOWL.com/Queens.
2019 USBC Queens
At Northrock Lanes
Double elimination, three-game matches decided by total pinfall
(Winners remain in winners bracket. Losers move to elimination bracket).
(16) Dasha Kovalova, Ukraine, def. (64) Brandi Branka, Belleville, Ill., 624-539.
(9) Daphne Tan, Singapore, def. (25) Liz Kuhlkin, Schenectady, N.Y., 741-634.
(5) Giselle Poss, Nashville, Tenn., def. (12) Cherie Tan, Singapore, 604-587.
(13) Josie Barnes, Nashville, Tenn., def. (36) Verity Crawley, England, 648-599.
(19) Clara Guerrero, Colombia, def. (3) Danielle McEwan, Stony Point, N.Y., 647-615.
(27) Shannon Pluhowsky, Dayton, Ohio, def. (11) Stefanie Johnson, McKinney, Texas, 678-642.
(58) Sin Li Jane, Malaysia, def. (55) Shalin Zulkifli, Malaysia, 747-557.
(47) Esther Cheah, Malaysia, def. (63) Aumi Guerra, Dominican Republic, 680-563.
ROUND 4 – ELIMINATION BRACKET
(Losers eliminated, earn $1,700)
(32) Tannya Roumimper, Indonesia, def. (22) Carolyn Dorin-Ballard, Keller, Texas, 629-627.
(59) Jennifer King, Cold Spring, Ky., def. (49) Haley Richard, Tipton, Mich., 620-574.
(4) Shannon O’Keefe, Shiloh, Ill., def. (37) Caitlyn Johnson, Lumberton, Texas, 774-697.
(52) Gazmine Mason, Cranston, R.I., def. (39) Erin McCarthy, Omaha, Neb., 627-611.
(6) Caroline Lagrange, Canada, def. (17) Diana Zavjalova, Latvia, 647-631.
(8) Maria José Rodriguez, Colombia, def. (33) Laura Plazas, Colombia, 559-534.
(7) Anggie Ramirez Perea, Colombia, def. (2) Shannon Sellens, Long Beach, N.Y., 734-550.
(10) Juliana Franco, Colombia, def. (18) Rebecca Whiting, Australia, 680-565.
ROUND 4 – WINNERS BRACKET
Kovalova def. D. Tan 682-668.
Barnes def. Poss, 737-690.
Guerrero def. Pluhowsky, 697-666.
Sin def. Cheah, 769-714.
ROUND 5 – ELIMINATION BRACKET
(Losers eliminated, earn $2,000)
Roumimper def. C. Tan, 661-540.
Crawley def. King, 646-623.
O’Keefe def. Branka, 713-613.
Mason def. Kuhlkin, 579-566.
Guerra def. Lagrange, 625-623.
Zulkifli def. Rodriguez, 735-624.
S. Johnson def. Ramirez Perea, 630-628.
McEwan def. Franco, 735-626.
ROUND 5 – WINNERS BRACKET
Kovalova def. Barnes, 725-620.
Sin def. Guerrero, 761-701.
ROUND 6 – ELIMINATION BRACKET
(Losers eliminated, earn $2,300)
Roumimper def. Crawley, 822-624.
O’Keefe def. Mason, 651-582.
Guerra def. Zulkifli, 687-634.
McEwan def. S. Johnson, 679-644.
ROUND 6 – WINNERS BRACKET
(Winner earns No. 1 seed for Tuesday’s CBS Sports Network finals; loser is No. 2 seed)
Kovalova def. Sin, 662-636.
ROUND 7 – ELIMINATION BRACKET
(Losers eliminated, earn $2,800)
Roumimper def. Cheah, 707-681.
Pluhowsky def. O’Keefe, 651-566.
Poss def. Guerra, 635-606.
D. Tan def. McEwan, 660-608.
ROUND 8 – ELIMINATION BRACKET
(Losers eliminated, earn $3,350)
Roumimper def. Pluhowsky, 628-602.
D. Tan def. Poss, 636-596.
ROUND 9 – ELIMINATION BRACKET
(Three highest scores advance to CBS Sports Network finals, high score is No. 3 seed, second high is No. 4, third high is No. 5, lowest score is eliminated, earns $4,200).
Guerrero 681, D. Tan 671, Roumimper 644, Barnes 550.