Strong overall performance propells No. 7 Alabama past No. 1 Florida
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - No. 7 Alabama used its best score of the season by more than a point to upset defending NCAA champion and No. 1 ranked Florida, 197.400-196.800, Friday night in front of an exuberant Coleman Coliseum crowd of 13,778.
"I'm so proud of these ladies," UA head coach Dana Duckworth said. "They worked so hard this week. They worked on mental toughness. We worked on our discipline, our focus, our energy and it showed."
Junior Lauren Beers, who went in the all-around for the first time in her Crimson Tide career, scoring a 39.500, won the uneven bars for the third week in a row with a career-best score of 9.9.
"That's been my goal for three years now," Beers said of her first collegiate all-around. "It was great to finally get up there and do it for the first time. There's always ways to improve but it was a good start."
Senior Kaitlyn Clark used a career-best score of her own to win the vault with a 9.975. Sophomore Katie Bailey won the balance beam with a 9.900, tying her career-best score on the way to 39.450 in the all-around.
Alabama opened the meet with another stellar vault rotation, scoring a season-best 49.500 behind a 9.975 from Clark. Freshman Mackenzie Brannan added a career-best 9.9 to the Crimson Tide's total while Bailey, Beers and senior Kayla Williams rounded out Alabama's vault total with matching 9.875s. Meanwhile, Florida scored a 48.950 on the uneven bars.
On the uneven bars, Beers scored a 9.900 to anchor a team score of 49.225. Sophomores Aja Sims and Amanda Jetter chipped in 9.85s to the Tide's total while fellow sophomore Keely McNeer added a 9.825. In the meantime the Gators scored a 49.500 on the vault, giving Alabama a 98.725-98.450 at the halfway point of the meet.
A week after trouble on the balance beam in the form of three falls sunk the Tide at Arkansas, Alabama posted a season-high of 49.325 on the beam against the Gators. Bailey led the way with a 9.9 while McNeer added a 9.875. The rest of the Tide's lineup -Williams, Beers, Clark and Aja Sims - all scored 9.85s. While the Tide found its balance on the beam, Florida scored a 49.350 on the floor exercise.
"I think after last weekend, more than focusing on skills on beam we focused on our overall energy as a team," Bailey said. "I noticed a big difference on every event, not just beam."
Alabama finished the meet with a 49.350 on the floor exercise led by a 9.9 from Clark and 9.875s from Bailey in the leadoff spot, and Beers in the fifth slot. Florida closed out their meet with a 49.000 on the balance beam.