Notebook: UF gymnastics back at No. 1
Published: Monday, March 17, 2014 at 4:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 17, 2014 at 4:08 p.m.
The Florida gymnastics team capped its regular season by posting the nation's top road score of the year in a 198.20-194.30 SEC win over Missouri last Friday and now gear-up for the all-important postseason.
It marked the second straight year that UF (9-1, 6-1) ended the season by recording the nation's top road mark, with this year's score elevating the Gators back into the No. 1 spot in the NCAA rankings.
Next up, UF will head to Birmingham, Ala., for the 2014 SEC championship, where the Gators, the defending NCAA and SEC champs, will try and secure their third straight conference crown this Saturday. The Gators are the top seeds, with LSU at No. 2 and Alabama at No. 3.
“I thought it was just an absolutely wonderful competition to end our regular season heading into the SEC championship,” coach Rhonda Faehn said. “I thought we were really solid on all four events.”
Sophomore All-American Bridget Sloan led the way, winning her eighth consecutive all-around title with a collegiate-best score of 39.825 that tied senior All-American Alaina Johnson's week-old school record, while junior All-American Kytra Hunter continued her stellar season with her school-record sixth perfect score of the year, courtesy of her fourth 10 on floor exercise (two on vault).
Florida will look to start a new winning streak when the Gators host Dartmouth at Donald R. Dizney Stadium today at 6:30 p.m.
No. 4 UF (8-2, 1-0 ALC) had its eight-game winning streak halted in a 17-12 road loss to No. 3 Syracuse last Saturday in the Carrier Dome. The loss was the first for the Gators since a 20-8 road defeat at the hands of No. 1 and defending NCAA champion North Carolina in the season-opener.
“Overall, it was a tough game for us, but it's certainly one we will learn from and get better from moving forward,” coach Amanda O'Leary said.
The Gators had bounced Winthrop, 21-5, in their previous outing to improve to 6-0 at home this season.
“Winthrop is a relatively new program, however they came out on the field with a high level of intensity and I thought we matched it,” O'Leary said. “We executed our game plan at both ends of the field, and we were able to work our offense and did a really nice job of having a lot of different scorers in that game, and defensively I thought we played a really good team defense.
“Against Syracuse, I don't think we were quite the same. We had 19 turnovers, which obviously against a team like Syracuse you can't have. It was a little uncharacteristic of us. We haven't had that many since our Carolina game, so it kind of put us on our heels.”
Following UF's home match with Dartmouth (3-2) this evening, the Gators will return to conference action with a road game against ALC foe and No. 20 Ohio State (6-3, 1-0) Saturday at 1 p.m.
“I think there's a lot of positives to this team, and one of the things is how much fun they are to be around,” O'Leary said. “I think that was the big thing, how we were going to transition from having 13 seniors to having two and how that was going to affect us, and I think this team has just really come together. That's the best surprise for us.”
A trio of Florida volleyball players will have the honor of trading in the Orange and Blue this summer for the Red, White & Blue to represent the Gators and Team USA on the U.S. Collegiate National Team for the European Tour,USA Volleyball announced Monday.
Rising junior middle blocker Simone Antwi, soon to be sophomore right side Alex Holston and 2014-15 junior outside hitter Gabby Mallette were named to the U.S. Collegiate National Team that will tour Europe July 8-19, with destinations in Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. The three Gators were honored among the 12-athlete European Tour squad following a weekend of tryouts and evaluation at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., Feb. 21-23.
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