By: McKalyn Crabtree
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama Crimson Tide traveled to Baton Rouge on Friday night to take on the No. 5 LSU Tigers. Despite being without one of their best gymnasts, the Tigers started off hot and could not be stopped. Both teams were without two key players in Makarri Doggette and Alyona Shchennikova. Doggette suffered a sprain last week against Georgia, and Shchennikova is recovering from a knee injury.
LSU started on the vault with back-to-back 9.900s from Kai Rivers and Sarah Edwards. Alabama had several mistakes they could not capitalize on but finished strong with a 9.900 from Luisa Blanco. The Tigers had a .50 advantage heading into the second rotation. The Tide tried to turn it around on vault with solid performances, including a near-perfect score from Lexi Graber. However, LSU added onto the lead after the second rotation 98.950-98.750.
The Crimson Tide looked to turn things around with the final two rotations of the night. Lily Hudson, Cameron Machado, and Graber helped the team finish strong on the floor, but the uncharacteristic mistakes continued throughout the night. The Tigers took advantage on the beam with a perfect score from Kiya Johnson, who became the sixth gymnast in school history with multiple perfect tens on the beam. LSU finished the balance beam with a 49.65 and led 148.600-147.975, heading into the final event.
Alabama tried to make a comeback on their strongest event, beam. Despite all six gymnasts scoring a 9.900 and above, it was not enough to come from behind. LSU won 198.050-197.600 with their highest score of the season. The Tide will look to rebound next week at home against No. 11 Missouri.