TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – In a battle of NCAA champions, Alabama came out on top against the UCLA Bruins Friday night, 197.075-196.375 in front of 11,775 fans in Coleman Coliseum.
“This was a big competition for us for a lot of different reasons,” UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. “I felt like our team needed to cross over that 197-threshold and now this is our third meet in a row that we’ve done that.”
Junior Kim Jacob won her fifth all-around title of the season, tying her career-high of 39.425. It was Alabama’s first non-conference meet of the season and eighth meet of the season. It was UA’s third consecutive 197-plus score.
“We weren’t perfect [Friday], but I can see that there are a lot of improvements,” Patterson said. “We had some people step in. Ashley Sledge has a sore foot and if this was the national championship, I probably would have let her go on vault and floor. But based on the fact that we need her in the end, I thought it was an opportunity to get some other people out there and that being said, I think some of them did a great job.”
Sophomore Kaitlyn Clark led the Crimson Tide on the vault with a 9.9, which ties her season and career-best score. Freshman Lauren Beers scored a 9.85 while junior Diandra Milliner chipped in a 9.875 on the vault.
Senior Ashley Sledge opened for the Tide uneven bars rotation with a 9.85, pacing Alabama to a 49.0 team score. Senior Ashley Priess added a 9.825 in the anchor spot while Jacob and senior Becca Alexin posted matching 9.8s.
On the balance beam, Jacob tied her season-high of 9.9 while Priess scored a season-best 9.925 to push the Tide to a 49.350. Junior Sarah DeMeo rebounded from a falls during uneven bars routine to score a 9.85 on the beam, a score Milliner matched as the Tide’s leadoff.
“That was awesome for Sarah DeMeo,” Jacob said. “She’s a competitor and she’s experienced, so she knows exactly how to come back and she definitely stepped it up. But we knew she would do that because she’s been here three years and every time she puts on a great routine.”
The Tide closed strong with a 49.450 on the floor exercise paced by career-best 9.95s from Jacob and Milliner. DeMeo and Priess both chipped in 9.875s on the floor.
“I think [Friday night] was a great meet for us and we’ve been talking each week about having a springboard performance and using each meet to launch us to the next meet,” Priess said. I think we did a really great job with that [Friday night]. I think we just need to continue to progress and work on different areas to be excellent and it’s going to pay off in the end.”