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Liz Johnson's try for third U.S. Queens title falls short

Liz Johnson's quest for a record-tying third United States Bowling Congress Queens title ended early Wednesday with a 247-216 loss to Diana Zavjalova of Latvia at Raising Cane's River Center in Baton Rouge, La.

Zavjalova, the 2013 champion, claimed her second Queens title, defeating the USBC Hall of Famer from Cheektowaga in the title match. Johnson had gained the No. 1 slot in the stepladder final by defeating Zavjalova, 663-612, in the winners bracket final.

Zavjalova, the 2013 Queens champion, is the 10th player to capture multiple wins at the event as she averaged more than 251 for her two games in the finals. The 25-year-old right-hander started the final match with five consecutive strikes, while Johnson opened in two of her first five frames.

After missing a 10 pin in the fifth frame, Johnson rolled four consecutive strikes to force Zavjalova to mark for the win. Zavjalova delivered a strike to seal the victory and $20,000 top prize.

"I've bowled really well on TV in the past and really just wanted to have fun while I was out there," said Zavjalova, who claimed her second Professional Women's Bowling Association Tour title with the win.

Zavjalova struck nine times in her semifinal win against Singapore's Cherie Tan, winning 256-179. Tan finished in third place.

Cherie Tan converted a 10 pin in the final frame of the second stepladder match to defeat teammate Jazreel Tan of Singapore, 214-203.  The opening match included a near-perfect performance by Cherie Tan as she started with 10 strikes on her way to 289-210 victory over Marissa Thomas of Louisville, Kentucky.

A total of 162 players bowled 15 games of qualifying over three days to determine the 63 players who joined defending champion Bernice Lim of Singapore in the double-elimination match-play bracket.

Johnson had been undefeated in match play until the final. She was trying to join Wendy Macpherson and Millie Ignizio as the only three time winners in the history of the tournament. Johnson won in 2009 and 2015.

Johnson put together a near-historic run through the double-elimination bracket, averaging more than 237 through her first six matches. That included the tournament's only 300 game in her opening match against Verity Crawley of England, winning, 756-711, in the three-games total-pinfall match. The stepladder portion was one-game matches.

"I made really good ball choices to start and ball changes when I needed them throughout my matches," said Johnson, the 2015 and 2016 Professional Women's Bowling Association Player of the Year. "Mentally, I felt really good, and the physical game came together as well."

Johnson earned $10,000 for her second-place finish.

 

 

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