Defending champion Kovalova leads opening rounds at 2021 PWBA Louisville Open

Defending champion Kovalova leads opening rounds at 2021 PWBA Louisville Open

STANDINGS

LOUISVILLE, Ky.
 - Ukraine's Dasha Kovalova has put herself in position to defend her title at the Professional Women's Bowling Association Louisville Open and leads the field after two rounds of competition Friday at Executive Strike and Spare.

Kovalova, who won the 2019 Pepsi PWBA Louisville Open, used steady six-game blocks of 1,393 and 1,407 to build a 98-pin lead over Missy Parkin of Laguna Hills, California, with a 2,800 total, a 233.33 average.

Parkin (2,702) is second, while Latvia's Diana Zavjalova (2,686), Breanna Clemmer of Clover, South Carolina (2,660), and Liz Kuhlkin of Schenectady, New York (2,650), round out the top five spots in the standings.

The 73-player field was cut to the top 32 players after Friday's second round, with Mexico's Sandra Gongora and Lauren Pate of Fairview Heights, Illinois, finishing tied for 31st position with a 2,442 total, a 203.5 average.

Gongora was able to maintain her spot in the top 32 with 202 in her final game, while Pate was able to jump into the number by rolling 264 to close her block.

Kovalova, a 26-year-old right-hander, has looked comfortable from the start on this week's 44-foot lane condition. She nearly averaged 250 in her first three games of each block Friday, and she rolled 268 in her final game of the second round to expand her lead on the field.

Kovalova captured her second career title at the 2019 event at Executive Strike and Spare and recorded a perfect game in the title match against Liz Johnson of Niagara Falls, New York, to become just the fourth player in PWBA history to roll a 300 game in a championship-round appearance.

She won the PWBA Twin Cities Open in April for her third career PWBA Tour title, and she's looking to make her fourth championship-round appearance of the 2021 season.

Johnson, a 25-time champion, also advanced to the next round, finishing Friday's sessions tied for 19th place with 2,490.

Saturday's third round will consist of an additional six games, with the top 12 returning to the lanes for one more six-game round to complete qualifying. The top four players, based on total pinfall for 24 games, will advance to the stepladder finals.

The stepladder will be Saturday at 6 p.m. Eastern and broadcast live on BowlTV.com. The champion will earn $10,000.

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