Pluhowsky, Murphy share lead at USBC Queens


    United States

    Super Bowl Lanes in Canton, Mich. and Skore Lanes in Taylor, Mich. (April 26-30, 2008)

    2008USBCQShannonPluhowsky.jpg With overall scores on the lower side most of the day, Team USA's Shannon Pluhowsky of Phoenix decided to play it safe for the first round of the 2008 United States Bowling Congress Queens.

    The decision paid off as the left-handed Pluhowsky, the 2006 Queens champion, tied with Jennifer Murphy of Clarksville, Tenn., for the overall lead after the first round of qualifying with 1,132 for five games, an average of better than 226 per game at Super Bowl Lanes.

    "You could probably say I played it safe because I didn't make any big jumps or moves," Pluhowsky said. "The scores have been low so far, so I wanted to get off to a good start so I wouldn't feel like I had to throw strikes to make the cut."

    Pluhowsky, a three-time U.S. Amateur champion and collegiate star at Nebraska, had games of 231, 185, 258, 257 and 201 to lead the field of 337 of the best women bowlers in the world competing for an overall prize fund of $200,000.

    "I felt like I made more good shots today than bad shots, but I still left a lot of pins out there," Pluhowsky said. "I played the lanes today as simply as possible. I felt it would be easy to get into trouble and leave spares I couldn't make."

    2008USBCQJenniferMurphy.jpg Murphy (pictured right), who also bowled collegiately at Nebraska and led the Huskers to national titles in 1997 and 1999, also put together a solid set, rolling games of 202, 267, 223, 215 and 225 on the day's final squad to move into a tie for the lead.

    "My second baby just turned 1 in February, so I just recently started bowling again," said Murphy, a mother of two boys, Noah, 1, and Joshua, 4. "I've slowly been building up my confidence, but it's been a long time since I've competed at this level."

    Both players lead Mandy Wilson of Dayton, Ohio, who closed out her five-game block with games of 257 and 241 and sits in third at 1,130. Team USA's Missy Bellinder of Fullerton, Calif., and Laurie Soto of Castaic, Calif., are tied for fourth with 1,112.

    2008BEC05MissyBellinder2.jpg "All I'm trying to do at this point is work on my game," Bellinder (left) said. "The tournament really starts with match play so I just want to work on some things and make sure I'm shooting my spares well. It's a great feeling to get off to a good start, and I'm just going to keep on doing the same thing until we get to match play."

    All bowlers return Sunday for a second five-game qualifying block before the field is cut to the top 100. The remaining bowlers take part in a final five-game block Monday morning, and the top 63 join defending champion Kelly Kulick in match play starting Monday afternoon.

    The final five players after match play concludes Tuesday will advance to the stepladder finals, which will be televised live from Skore Lanes in Taylor, Mich., by ESPN2 on April 30 at 7 p.m. Eastern.

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