RENO, Nev. – Latvia’s Diana Zavjalova may have walked into the National Bowling Stadium on Friday with limited information on the 40-foot lane condition being used at the Professional Women’s Bowling Association Tour Championship, but she left the venue with nearly a 100-pin lead at the third and final major of the 2021 season.
The four-time PWBA Tour champion is looking to make her third consecutive finals appearance at a major this season, and she was able to post a 12-3-1 record over two rounds of match play Friday to finish with a 4,057 total, including bonus pins for each win or tie.
She’s followed in the standings by Bryanna Coté of Tucson, Arizona (3,964), Shannon Pluhowsky of Dayton, Ohio (3,940), Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, California (3,885), and Shannon Sellens of Long Beach, New York (3,883).
The 24 athletes who qualified for the Tour Championship will return to the NBS on Saturday for a final eight-game round of match play on BowlTV.com, with the top five competitors advancing to the stepladder finals.
The stepladder of the Tour Championship will be broadcast live Sunday at 5 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network, with the champion claiming the $50,000 top prize.
Zavjalova always has been one of the most consistent performers on tour at major championships. She won the United States Bowling Congress Queens in 2013 and 2017, and she’s the only player this season to advance to the stepladder in both the USBC Queens and U.S. Women’s Open, recording fifth-place finishes at each event.
Her focus at the start of the PWBA Fall Classic Series, however, was getting comfortable with the patterns for the PWBA Reno Classic and PWBA Pepsi Classic during Sunday’s official practice session.
The 30-year-old right-hander finished in eighth place at the Reno Classic and 23rd at the Pepsi Classic.
The Fall Classic Series features the final three events of the 2021 PWBA Tour season — the Reno Classic, Pepsi Classic and Tour Championship.
“During the practice session, I threw one spare shot on that pattern,” said Zavjalova, who averaged more than 230 over 16 games Friday. “I had no idea how today’s pattern was going to play. The reason for that was to focus on the first two patterns. I wanted to make sure I was ready on those patterns. When I came in this morning, I had absolutely zero idea what the lanes were going to do, so I kept an open mind. I bowled really well and was able to find a magic ball. I struggled at the very end of the first block, so I wanted to make sure I didn’t make the same mistakes in the second block. I hope that when I come in tomorrow, I see the lanes just as well as I did today.”
In addition to seeing a clear picture on the lanes, Zavjalova also is seeing her name on the scoreboard at the NBS in better clarity this week. The Fall Classic Series marks her first professional event competing in glasses.
“I went home to my country during our break after the U.S. Women’s Open, and I had been complaining about the vision in my right eye,” Zavjalova said. “Even though I’m left-eye dominant, I knew something was wrong with my right eye. I went to see an optometrist, and while they were checking, she placed the lenses on, and I could see so much better. I wasn’t planning to have glasses for bowling, but I was practicing and decided to try them. When I put them on, all of a sudden everything was clear. I can actually see better now, and this is my first event with them.”
The top 24 athletes based on their combined qualifying totals for the Reno Classic and Pepsi Classic (24 games) advanced to the season-ending Tour Championship.
Stephanie Zavala of Downey, California, won her third title of the season at the Reno Classic on Tuesday, defeating Coté in the championship match, 207-194. Julia Bond of Aurora, Illinois, claimed her third title of 2021 at the Pepsi Classic on Thursday, defeating Colombia’s Maria José Rodriguez in the finals, 234-222.
Pinfall dropped at the beginning of the Tour Championship, with advancers bowling three eight-game blocks of round-robin match play Friday and Saturday.
The Tour Championship also will decide which athlete wins PWBA Player of the Year for the 2021 season, based on position on the season-long points list.
Coté and Parkin were two of the seven players in the mix for the postseason award entering the Tour Championship and will return to the NBS on Saturday at 1 p.m. Eastern in the top five for the CBS Sports Network broadcast.
Two-time reigning PWBA Player of the Year Shannon O’Keefe of Shiloh, Illinois, is in eighth place at the Tour Championship after two rounds, 85 pins off the show.
Three-time PWBA Player of the Year Liz Johnson of Niagara Falls, New York, is in ninth place, 107 pins back.
England’s Verity Crawley (13th place), Ukraine’s Dasha Kovalova (15th place) and Bond (22nd place) entered the Tour Championship as the top three players on the points list but are each more than 250 pins away from the top five.
Crawley entered the Tour Championship with a slight edge over Kovalova and Bond. Johnson was seventh in the race after the Pepsi Classic, 8,540 points outside of first. The champion at the Tour Championship will receive 25,000 points, with second place earning 18,000 points.To learn more about the PWBA Tour, visit PWBA.com.
2021 PWBA Tour Championship
At National Bowling Stadium
(16 games, 30 bonus pins for a win, 15 bonus pins for a tie)
1, Diana Zavjalova, Latvia, 12-3-1, 4,057. 2, Bryanna Coté, Tucson, Ariz., 10-6-0, 3,964. 3, Shannon Pluhowsky, Dayton, Ohio, 9-7-0, 3,940. 4, Missy Parkin, Laguna Hills, Calif., 11-5-0, 3,885. 5, Shannon Sellens (n), Long Beach, N.Y., 11-5-0, 3,883. 6, Daria Pajak, Poland, 9-7-0, 3,827.
7, Sandra Gongora, Mexico, 9-5-2, 3,820. 8, Shannon O'Keefe, Shiloh, Ill., 8-7-1, 3,798. 9, Liz Johnson, Niagara Falls, N.Y., 8-8-0, 3,776. 10, Maria José Rodriguez, Colombia, 11-5-0, 3,756. 11, Birgit Noreiks, Germany, 7-8-1, 3,711. 12, Stefanie Johnson, McKinney, Texas, 8-8-0, 3,645.
13, Verity Crawley, England, 7-9-0, 3,630. 14, Valerie Bercier, Muskegon, Mich., 6-10-0, 3,615. 15, Dasha Kovalova, Ukraine, 8-8-0, 3,602. 16, Liz Kuhlkin, Schenectady, N.Y., 9-7-0, 3,578. 17, Ashly Galante, Palm Harbor, Fla., 8-8-0, 3,566. 18, Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J., 8-8-0, 3,561.
19, Misaki Mukotani, Japan, 3-13-0, 3,556. 20, Stephanie Zavala, Downey, Calif., 6-10-0, 3,545. 21, Shalin Zulkifli, Malaysia, 7-9-0, 3,516. 22, Julia Bond, Aurora, Ill., 6-9-1, 3,490. 23, Jen Higgins, Lewis Center, Ohio, 5-11-0, 3,429. 24, Lindsay Boomershine, Perry, Utah, 3-13-0, 3,328.