LIVE BLOG: No. 9 Kentucky at No. 7 Alabama

Alabama welcomes Kentucky to Tuscaloosa this week, seeking a new score to improve its RQS situation, as the Tide currently stands to drop a 195.800. Last week, they put up their best number of the year with a 197.075 against Florida, so they’ll be looking to replicate similar or better results now that they’re back in Coleman Coliseum. Key to this will be Kiana Winston’s success in the all around—after a so-so vault and a crashed dismount on beam at Florida, she’ll want a cleaner performance to boost the team’s total.

Kentucky will be looking to bounce back from its disastrous loss at home to Georgia last week with a strong road meet, and considering that being better on the road is an odd trend the Wildcats have picked up, their outlook is good. They’ll need strong performances from all arounders Mollie Korth and Alex Hyland, as well as a hit beam rotation, which the Cats failed to do last week. If they can put all that together in the same night, they might be able to hit 197 for the first time this season and drop of the 195s currently counting in their RQS situation.

8:28pm: Georgia and Florida are finishing up on SECN, so as soon as they switch over, we’ll get started!

8:35pm: Mahoney, VT: FTY, big distance, little hop.

8:36pm: Carlisle, UB: Jaeger, good. Short on the following handstand. Bail was fine. Full in with a stick!

8:37pm: Armbrecht, VT: Just the FTY tonight, good distance, decent hop back.

Warren, UB: Jaeger, really nicely extended. Short on the handstand just like Carlisle. Bail dead on. DLO dismount, little steps back.

8:39pm: Guerra, VT: Yhalf on, tuck half. Low on the landing, little bounce.

Poland, UB: Ooh, interesting. I think her first time on bars? Initial handstands are off and really weird. Gienger is low, Bail is iffy. DLO with a shuffle.

8:40pm: Winston, VT: FTY, hop on the landing.

8:42pm: Coca, UB: arched over on first handstand for fall. Big Jaeger after getting back up. Bail is good, as is final handstand. Full in, step forward on the dismount

8:43pm: Graber, VT: Y1.5 is back, and she sticks!! Very nice!

8:44pm: Hyland, UB: Gienger, good. Bail was fine, maybe a little floppy. Step on the dismount.

Guerrero, VT: Y1.5, little stutter step forward. Little knees but super straight in the body line.

8:45pm: Korth, UB: Piked Jaeger, gorgeous. Bail is dead on, nice. Short on final handstand. FTDLO, bounces in place.

After one rotation, Alabama leads Kentucky 49.3 to 49.075. Graber and Guerrero are tied at 9.9 for the lead on vault, while Korth leads bars with another 9.9.

8:52pm: Rotation 2 time!

Dukes, VT: Yhalf, a little step backwards.

8:53pm: Guerra, UB: Short on first handstand. Jaeger is nice, though following handstand is also short. Bail is great. DLO, stuck! A good leadoff for the Tide.

8:54pm: Davis, VT: FTY, little shuffle back.

8:55pm: Graber, UB: Gienger is good, little leg sep. Bail nice, a little floppy. Full in gets a little crazy in the legs and chest is low.

8:56pm: Hyland, VT: FTY, bounce back, super clean form in the air though.

8:57pm: Mahoney, UB: Toe on to handstand is good, hits Maloney today. Bail is solid. Final handstand is nice. Full in, nice and floaty, and stuck! One of her best ones.

8:58pm: Stuart, VT: FTY, looked stuck when she did it, but slow-mo showed a itty bitty hop back.

Dickson, UB: Nice first handstand. Bail a little unclear. Huge Tkachev as usual. Full in, a little messy in the legs but another stick! Alabama is going for it tonight.

Rosa, VT: FTY, hop back. Nothing really special in this vault lineup tonight.

9:00pm: Winston, UB: Maloney, good air. Bail is dead on as usual. DLO, beautiful form and a stick!

9:01pm: Korth, VT: Y1.5, a little knees before she lands, and a stutter forward on the landing. She’s done better.

Brannan, UB: Gorgeous high Jaeger. Bail is perfectly straight, holds it for a second. DLO, stick!

After two, Alabama’s lead improves 98.675 to Kentucky’s 98.275. In a surprising turn of event, Shea Mahoney, who was out of the lineup at one point for her inconsistent Maloney, wins bars with a 9.975, while Graber and Guerrero’s 9.9s hold to tie for the vault title. Beam is where the moment of truth will be for both teams, so these next two rotations should be exciting!

9:09pm: Here we go, rotation 3!

Desch, BB: Front aerial to beat, good. Bhs loso, biiiiig balance break at the hips but stays on, doesn’t touch. Switch to split, another lean but okay. Bhs bhs 1.5 twist dismount. Not her best, but stayed on.

9:11pm: Stuart, FX: Double pike, looked pretty crunchy. 1.5 twist to front lay, a little short of rotation but puts it to her feet. Rudi to finish, really bouncy on the landing but stays in bounds. Not the best Kentucky could have done for a lead.

9:13pm: Armbrecht, BB: Front aerial to beat, great. Bhs loso, and a fall. Welp, this can’t be good. Split to sheep, another bobble. Roundoff to double full, bounce in place.

9:14pm: Poland, FX: Front tuck through to Rudi, very nice. Front double full, excellent! Only two passes in this routine. Love the choreo here to close! Much better for the Cats.

9:17pm: Ernst, BB: Bhs loso, super solid! Sheep jump is lovely. Front aerial to split, super steady. Roundoff double full, nice! Great hit from Peyton.

9:18pm: Warren, FX: Double back is solid. Nice straddle positions in her dance elements. Rudi to back tuck, should have been a layout I think, and I think she went out of bounds? Hard to see from this angle. Front full to front tuck, doesn’t travel much but generally fine. Not one of her best ones.

9:20pm: Graber, BB: Bhs layout 2ft, a little piked, good. Jumps are fine. Front toss, surprised by the impact and wobbles, but stays on. Roundoff double full, stuck! Mixed bag but she stays on, that’s what they need right now.

9:22pm: Hyland, FX: Double pike to open, very nice. Good positions in her dance elements. Love the choreo in forward and in reverse in that section, that’s fun. 1.5 twist to front lay, good. Solid routine!

9:24pm: Winston, BB: Split positions gorgeous as usual. Front aerial, wobbled and couldn’t connect out of it. Goes for a bhs layout 2ft as her backup series – girl who has that as their backup series?? Only KiWi.

9:26pm: Dukes, FX: Just the double tuck still to open, no upgrade. Rudi loso for her second pass, not as floaty as she can do, but solid. Double pike to close, very nice! Easily Kentucky’s best.

9:29pm: Guerrero, BB: Hits triple series, beautiful. Switch to split, good. Some of her better splits that we’ve seen. Side aerial gorgeous. Roundoff 1.5 twist, step salute. Bama just saved themselves from another disastrous beam rotation.

9:30pm: Dukes, FX: Double pike to open, nice and high. Front full to front lay, good. I love that front aerial to illusion in her choreo. Double tuck to close, should be another big score for Kentucky!

Alabama maintains its leads despite the miscues on beam, with a 147.7 to Kentucky’s 147.3. Guerrero leads beam as well at a 9.9, while Korth leads floor with another 9.9. One more to go, and Alabama could very well end up with a 197 for the third week in a row!

9:39pm: Rotation 4!

Stuart, BB: Dance elements lovely. Bhs loso, perfectly solid. She sticks her dismount! Distracted slightly from play-by-playing skills because they just announced a drop in Poland’s floor score, something huge like 3 tenths. Still waiting on the explanation, but it has to be SV from that kind of a drop.

Guerra, FX: Double tuck to open, good. 1.5 twist to front lay, right to the line but in. Double pike, really bouncy and steps out of bounds. Disappointing end to what was a solid routine up to that point.

9:42pm: Korth, BB: Bhs loso, solid. Switch leap to back tuck, nice. Round off double full, with a stick! One of the best beams I’ve seen from her. Just updated on Poland’s scoring issue, missing a B skill somewhere and somehow that costs her three tenths.

9:44pm: Graber, FX: Ooh, Lexi making her floor debut! That means she in the all around tonight, good for her! Just the double pike to open, she’s capable of a piked full in but keeping it easier tonight. Front lay to front full, solid. Rudi to stag, a little bit of helicopter legs in there. I like the choreo in this routine – definitely would love to see her in this lineup again.

9:46pm: Poland, BB: Bhs bhs loso, big lean, leg up. Front aerial, much more solid. Switch to ring stag, very nice. Gainer pike off the end, nice! Trying to show the scoring nonsense isn’t rattling her.

9:48pm: Armbrecht, FX: Double pike to open, good. 1.5 twist to front lay, some uprise out of the first into the second but none of these floor routines have really had the float that we love to see. Rudi to stag to finish, great control in the jump. Another good one for Bama.

9:50pm: Kwan, BB: Bhs loso, balance check but keeps it smaller than it could be. Switch to ring stag, solid. Cat leap to side aerial to back tuck full, stick! Also, apparently Garrison submitted an inquiry regarding Poland but judges stuck to the score drop.

9:51pm: Desch, FX: Hey, she hit the double arabian tonight! Front full, front half, split jump to front tuck, nicely done, control evident throughout. Double back, had way more energy on that tonight than I’ve seen her do before. Another solid hit!

9:54pm: Dukes, BB: Bhs loso, super steady. Front aerial, little bobble. Split to straddle quarter, good. Sheep jump is nice. Roundoff 1.5 twist, delayed step back.

9:55pm: Winston, FX: Opens with the DLO! Not a great landing on it though, keeps it on her feet but very short. Front lay to front full for connection pass, nice. Double back to close, very nice. Love her switch ring at the end, her splits are so nice.

9:57pm: Hyland, BB: Cat leap front aerial, nice. Bhs loso, super steady. Cat leap to side aerial to back tuck full, with a stick! Very solid routine for her.

9:59pm: Guerrero, FX: Double pike to open, not putting her E pass in yet. 1.5 twist to front full, good control. Love this choreo segment, very krump-inspired in her hip-hop style. Rudi to finish, not as much distance as she normally gets but solid! Another great set for her.

That’ll wrap it up here tonight – Alabama wins but comes up just shy of that pesky 197 mark, at a 196.925. Kentucky ends up with a 196.325, which they’ll take in order to drop a 195.550 for their RQS picture. Not the meet either of these teams wanted, but not disastrous either.

As far as event winners, Graber and Guerrero win vault at 9.9, Mahoney bars at 9.975, Hyland beam at 9.925, and Korth and Guerrero tie for floor at 9.9.

Make sure you check out the rest of our liveblogs this weekend, especially the big rivalry matchup of Utah @ UCLA on Sunday. See you guys next week for more Friday Night Heights!

Live blog by Caroline Medley

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