DIXON – Melissa Bates had heard enough.
Every time certain members of the Oregon girls bowling squad would chirp about their long dual meet winning streak, Bates and her Dixon Duchesses teammates would feel a little annoyed by it.
Oregon’s streak stopped at 54 Thursday night at Plum Hollow Lanes, as Dixon scored a come-from-behind 3,141-3,067 win with plenty of improvement in the third game.
“They kept telling us every time we saw them that they were on these consecutive wins,” Bates said. “It was getting kind of tiring to hear it, but good for them.”
Bates, Allison Bay and Kyrie Payne teamed up on the first and second lanes. Their play picked up after the sixth frame of the final game. Bay rolled a strike in the sixth, and Bates followed with one of her own. The trio hit strikes in 15 of their final 20 rolls; Bates cleared six straight, Bay rolled four straight, and Payne rolled a turkey in the 10th frame.
Dixon’s trio wound up doing plenty of mental math along the way to figure out if they were catching up to the Hawks.
“We were told that we were down by 10 pins, so we were watching [the score] the whole time,” Bates said. “Then once we started stringing the strikes along, we knew it would probably be good for the rest of the time if we could continue that.”
Dixon’s scores shot up after that spurt, and Bates finished with a meet-high 234 game and a team-leading 583 series. Bay finished with a 210 game.
“I think we all finally figured out where we needed to go,” Bates said. “The first two games, we were missing spares and leaving 10-pins. We couldn’t pick them up, and that made us struggle. Then we finally figured out how to knock them down.”
“By the third game, we usually pick it up,” Bay added. “We really start bowling some strikes and picking things up. We just kind of feed off each other and be excited for everyone.”
Riley Kavanaugh, the lone sophomore for the Duchesses (6-2), improved throughout the meet, and shot 101 pins better between her first (119) and third (220) games. She rolled a turkey in the first three frames of her third game, and ended with a 501 series.
Bay rolled a 546 series, and Payne finished with a 473.
“We settled down and relaxed, and threw the ball like we know we can do,” Duchesses coach Larry LaCoursiere said. “Melissa, Riley and Ali both came up big in that third game to make up that deficit. There’s the old adage, it’s not over until the last ball. Our girls stuck with it, and made it work.”
Oregon (13-1) last lost a dual meet on Dec. 2, 2014 at Marengo. Led by Samantha Meyers’ 200, the Hawks owned a 1,000-914 lead after the first game, where Oregon’s Caitlyn Kaltenbrun and Dixon’s Annie Hantke each cleared their 10th frame rolls.
Hantke picked up where she left off and cleared the pins in each of the first eight frames in the second game via strike or spare. Her 203 was the Duchesses’ best score in the first two games, and Alyssa Bonnette also improved in the second game by 34 pins (159-192).
Kaltenbrun turkied in the sixth, seventh, and eighth frames and had the meet’s best game at that point with a 213.
However, the Duchesses closed the gap to a mere 27 pins before the third game.
“Actually, it wasn’t as big a disappointment,” Oregon coach Eric Carlson said. “Dixon’s been on a roll lately.”
Just 3 days prior, Dixon scored better than Oregon at the Sterling MLK Invite, where the Duchesses finished 301 pins better.
“We were within 20 points,” Carlson said, “which was a lot closer than I thought after the first two games, but Dixon put up a heck of a third game that we just couldn’t match.”
Kaltenbrun rolled a 602 to lead the Hawks. Rebbeca Meyers (211) and Hannah Kaltenbrun (205) finished with their best scores in their third games.
Carlson is breaking in a pair of new varsity bowlers in Taylor Wilson and Liz Villareal, both of whom have improved drastically as of late, according to their coach.
“The two that are bowling fifth and sixth now are really picking up their game,” Carlson said. “They’re getting better, and hopefully we’ll get to the point in 2 weeks where they’re even better than what they are now.”
Dixon 3,141, Oregon 3,067
Star of the meet: Melissa Bates, Dixon, 234 third game, 583 series
Key performers: Caitlyn Kaltenbrun, Oregon, 602 series; Riley Kavanaugh, Dixon, 220 third game
Up next: Dixon at Kewanee, 4 p.m. Monday; Oregon at Rochelle, 4 p.m. Thursday