Friday Night’s Battle in the Bayou Ends With Season High Scores and Heartache as the LSU Tigers Lose 198.050 to Florida’s 198.150
By: Brittney Achord
Da Boot Sports!
BATON ROUGE, LA - Friday night’s Bayou Battle was one for the books. No. 1 Florida and No. 2 LSU went toe-to-toe all night, posting the two highest scores in the nation thus far this 2021 season. While the Tigers put up a tremendous fight, performed routine-by-routine with such energy, and posted season and career highs on each of the four events, they came up short by one-tenth against the Gators in the last rotation. The 198.050 put up by the Tigers is the 13th best score in school history.
LSU would count 13 scores of 9.90 and higher, post five career high scores, five season high scores, and three scores that tied season and career highs.
Post meet, Head Coach Jay Clark stated, “That was a heck of a meet and a heavy-weight boxing match. I'm proud of our kids. They fought toe to toe with probably one of the best Florida teams I've ever seen. I have nothing but positive things to say about the way they fought and left it all out there tonight.”
Here is the Da Boot Sports Breakdown:
LSU Opens with Fireworks and a Season High 49.600 on Vault
LSU went big right out the gate, hitting six of six vaults. While Chase Brock’s 9.825 score would not be needed, her energy electrified the team and got the Tigers roaring. Alyona Shchennikova would follow and amplify the PMAC with a career high 9.925. Up next, Elena Arenas would continue to show her consistency and power with a beautiful yurchenko full that added a 9.85 to the Tiger vault score. Sarah Edwards ran down the vault runway with determination, soared through the air with grace, and landed with a purpose scoring a season high 9.925. The dynamic duo closed out vault with matching scores of 9.950 on two very different vaults that were both equally amplified. This would be a season high for Kiya Johnson and a career high for Haleigh Bryant.
While the Tiger vault team put up a season high 49.600, the Florida Gators put up a 49.400 on bars giving the Tigers a two-tenth lead after the first rotation.
The Tigers Swung Their Way Further Ahead of the Gators with Another Season High 49.550 on Bars
Kiya Johnson opened up bars with a dynamic career high 9.925 that would set the tone for the Tiger bar team. Oliva Dunne put up a graceful bar routine bringing a 9.850 to the Tiger bar score. Haleigh Bryant swung relentlessly with hit handstands and a slight step on the landing adding a 9.875 score for the Tigers. Alyona Shchennikova amplified the PMAC not only with her back-to-back release moves and gorgeous stuck landing, but with her career high 9.950 score as well. Sami Durante attacked the bars in the anchor spot tying her career high, hitting handstands, swinging with beautiful lines, and matching Shchennikova’s score of 9.950.
Over on the vault, the Florida Gators put up an impressive 49.550. This would keep the Tigers in the lead 99.15 to Florida’s 98.95 going into the third rotation.
The Tigers Attack the Balance Beam Counting Four Scores at 9.900 and Higher
The night of season and career highs continued over on the balance beam. The Tigers put up an intense 49.550 with four out of five scores at 9.900 and higher. Christina Desiderio started the Tigers off attacking the balance beam with such grace putting up an enormous 9.900. Sami Durante continued to display her elegance and consistency with a career high 9.925. Haleigh Bryant stayed steadfast with an impressive routine that added a 9.875 to the Tiger beam score. Bridget Dean continued the momentum for the Tigers with elegance and determination scoring a career high 9.925. Back in the beam lineup since January 15, Kiya Johnson amplified the night with persistence and a powerful season high 9.925 beam score.
Over on the floor, the Florida Gators put up another impressive 49.550, but the Tigers would keep the lead 148.700 to 148.500.
The fourth and final event. Florida, No. 1 in the nation on balance beam. LSU, No. 1 in the nation on floor. These two teams battled routine-for-routine.
Bridget Dean would continue the momentum for the Tigers, stepping in for Reagan Campbell, with an energizing 9.875 routine. Christina Desiderio persevered through her routine adding a 9.750 to the Tiger floor lineup. Alyona Shchennikova twisted her way to a tied career high and her second 9.925 of the night. All eyes were on Sierra Ballard and her captivating career high 9.925 to match Shchennikova's floor score. Sarah Edwards took to the floor with her fun and vibrant personality, matching Dean’s 9.875 floor score.
While both Florida and LSU would have a fall in the fourth rotation, Florida’s 49.650 beam score out scored LSU’s 49.350 floor score, clinching the win for the Gators.
“We told the girls that this meet was not going to be our final destination,” stated Head Coach Jay Clark. The Tigers are going to continue to push meet-by-meet, routine-by-routine, and score-by-score. “These are all stepping stones to the end for us that we just gotta keep climbing, and climb we did tonight. We got better. We got better than we have all year.” - Head Coach Jay Clark.
The Tigers will hit the road to take on Alabama on Friday, February 19 in Tuscaloosa at 7:30 pm CT. The meet will be streamed live on SEC+ Network through WatchESPN.com and the app.
Photos By: Brittney Achord