Womens gymnastics: Utah getting better on road
Tempe, Ariz. » The Utah-Arizona State gymnastics rivalry gradually has faded from one of the sport's most fiercely competed to a dominant showing by the Utah Utes.
But in a year when the No. 4 Utes are struggling on the road and seem vulnerable, ASU briefly ignited the feud.
Then the competition went much like the way of the rivalry as the Sun Devils slipped farther and farther behind to eventually fall to the Utes 196.475-195.7 on Friday at the Wells Fargo Arena.
The Utes (4-1) won their fourth straight over the Sun Devils in Tempe, but the victory wasn't as easy as the final margin indicated.
For only the second time this year the Utes trailed after the opening event. They overtook the Sun Devils on the second rotation then held on for the win.
The Utes came to Arizona hoping for the dominating road performance that has eluded them this season. The score was their season high for road meets, but it still left plenty of areas for improvement.
"It was a good step forward," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "There are plenty of things to work on like missed handstands and steps on landings, but that is a never ending process. Overall it was an improvement on the things we identified from last week and we did a much better job."
Daria Bijak tied her season best in the all-around to win the category with a 39.4 and Stephanie McAllister had a career high 39.175. Senior Annie DiLuzio also had one of her better meets, scoring three 9.875s.
"It feels good to have this meet, it has been a long stretch," DiLuzio said. "We're building confidence. The scores seemed a little low to start, but to get that on the road is a good score."
Despite a career high from Stephanie McAllister (9.85) and a season high by Bijak (9.9), the Utes trailed Arizona State 49.025-48.975 after the first event.
The Utes overtook ASU (1-6) on the second rotation when they delivered their second-highest vault score of the season (49.25), led by a 9.925 from Kyndal Robarts and a 9.875 from DiLuzio.
While the Utes were building steam on the vault, the Sun Devils were having trouble maintaining their strong start as they scored just 48.85 on the uneven bars.
Utah earned a 49.1 on the floor and created some distance from the Sun Devils thanks to their struggles on the balance beam, where they earned just 48.8.
The Utes increased their margin on the final event, where they scored a 49.15 on the beam and ASU earned a 49.025 on the floor.
DiLuzio tied her career high with a 9.875 on the balance beam. However, she was just as happy with her 9.875 on the vault after pulling out of the lineup a week ago at Washington when the springs were too soft for her to feel comfortable competing.
In short » The Utah Utes win their fourth straight meet with their season-best road score.
Key stat » Senior Annie DiLuzio scores three 9.875s, competing on everything but the uneven bars.
Key moment » The Utes all but wrap up the win in the third rotation in which they score a 49.1 while ASU struggles to a 48.8 on the balance beam.