Feb. 28, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
In a meet that was tied throughout the night, the No. 4 Alabama gymnastics team beat No. 3 Florida by a score of 197.675-197.400 in front of 12,301 roaring fans in Coleman Coliseum Friday. It was a season-best mark for the Crimson Tide.
"This is what the coaching staff has anticipated," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. "I feel like our ladies learned that even through adversity and challenges and shifting our lineup around that they can compete with anyone in the country."
With the win, Alabama goes to 8-3-0 on the year and 6-1-0 in Southeastern Conference competition while extending its home winning streak, which dates back to midway through the 2009 season, to 43-0-0. The Gators, undefeated coming into the meet, go to 7-1-0 overall and 5-1-0 in the SEC.
"I wanted our team to see that we are as good as everyone else if we just continue down this path," Patterson said. "I believed it, but I wanted them to see it for themselves."
The meet was knotted 148.250-148.250 after three rotations, but Alabama closed out the meet and the Gators with a 49.425 on the floor exercise led by huge back-to-back 9.95 routines from seniors Kim Jacob and Diandra Milliner while the Gators finished the night with a 49.150 on the balance beam.
"It's what I practice every day," Milliner said of her last routine. "It would be kind of ridiculous to start worrying at that point because I know how to do it and if I start worrying it probably would have gotten tighter and wouldn't have been as good."
Freshman Aja Sims got the Tide's floor rotation going by tying her career best of 9.875 while sophomore Lauren Beers scored a 9.85 and freshman Amanda Jetter posted a 9.8 to put the meet in the hands of the Tide's senior All-Americans.
"It was really exciting," Milliner said of the deafening sound that came from Alabama's fans after she finished her routine. "I just love hearing the crowd cheer that loud. There's no other place like Coleman Coliseum."
Alabama won the meet despite being without one of its top all-arounders, senior All-American Sarah DeMeo, who is working her way back after a hard fall in practice prior to last week's Perfect 10 Challenge.
"With some of the adversity that we've had this season - we lost Kayla Williams and then we didn't have Sarah DeMeo, one of our top all-arounders, again tonight - I just felt like going head-to-head tonight in this great environment would show our ladies just how far we've come over the season."
Led by a trio of 9.9 or better routines, Alabama started the night with a 49.425 on the vault paced by sophomore Lauren Beers' 9.925 and 9.9s from Milliner and sophomore Kaitlyn Clark. The Tide followed that with its second highest uneven bars total of the season, a 49.425, behind 9.925s from Jacob and Jetter and a 9.9 from Clark.
Paced by a career-best 9.925 from Clark, her third 9.9 or better score of the night, Alabama scored a season-best 49.400 on the balance beam. Milliner got the rotation started with a 9.875 while Sims added a 9.9.
"It definitely came together for me tonight," Clark said. "We definitely worked on finding that .025 of a point all week and I think my whole team definitely showed it tonight."
The Tide remains at home for its next two meets, facing Stanford on March 7 and Auburn on March 14, both at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available now through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262) located in the lobby of Coleman Coliseum or online at RollTide.com.
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