Illini bounce back against Spartans

Karen+Howell+performs+her+beam+routine+during+Illinois%27+meet+against+Michigan+on+Friday+January+19%2C+2018.+Illinois+lost+to+Michigan+194.325+to+194.975.
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Illini bounce back against Spartans

Karen Howell performs her beam routine during Illinois' meet against Michigan on Friday January 19, 2018. Illinois lost to Michigan 194.325 to 194.975.

Karen Howell performs her beam routine during Illinois' meet against Michigan on Friday January 19, 2018. Illinois lost to Michigan 194.325 to 194.975.

Ethan Scholl

Karen Howell performs her beam routine during Illinois' meet against Michigan on Friday January 19, 2018. Illinois lost to Michigan 194.325 to 194.975.

Ethan Scholl

Ethan Scholl

Karen Howell performs her beam routine during Illinois' meet against Michigan on Friday January 19, 2018. Illinois lost to Michigan 194.325 to 194.975.

By Sumeya Kalib, Staff writer

Ending with a solid floor routine, the Illinois women’s gymnastics team bounced back against Michigan State 195.100-194.575, the Illini earning their second Big Ten win and 10th consecutive win against the Spartans.

The team started off strong on vaults by winning the event, beating its season-high from last weekend. Sophomore Kasey Meeks and junior Karen Howell both earned career highs of 9.900.

However, with a rough bar transition and a fall from Howell, the team dropped behind the Spartans and stayed behind during the third rotation on beams.

The Illini came back during floor with solid performances that garnered 9.80+ scored from four out of their six gymnasts. Sophomore Kylie Noonan’s career-high 9.925 routine secured the win for Illinois.

The team swept all individual events, Howell and Meeks with vault, Noonan on bars and floor, and redshirt senior Mary Jane Otto with beam and all-around.

According to head coach Nadalie Walsh, the girls’ confidence showed during their vault and floor routine specifically. This was particularly true with sophomore Tessa Phillips’ debut performance on floor, where she scored a 9.825.

To Walsh, it was a sweet victory for the coaches who worked with her.

“They just sealed the whole deal again and made sure they stayed it in again all the way to the end, and it was great to not have to count a fall on beam,” Walsh said. “That was a really big improvement for us, and so we’re just going to continue doing what we’ve been doing in training and keep moving forward.”

The fall on bars was a result of the team getting “overly excited,” according to freshman Shaylah Scott. However, the team was able to “channel its energy” into winning the meet. As for Scott, she scored a personal best on beam (9.850).

Walsh claims the team did a good job of not letting its bar score be discouraging. Although it “got ahead of itself,” she expects a hunger and focus from the team in order to do well.

“On bars, we got so excited because they were getting the scores they were earning, and they were doing great routines, and Kylie Noonan went out for the first time in bar lineup, hit and did a great job,” Walsh said. “We got a little bit ahead of ourselves, so we’re just going to make sure that we work on not getting overly excited to the point where we have a little hiccup.”

According to Scott, she was happy they were able to ‘rally’ from their mistakes and not have them affect their performances in the other events. She hopes for fewer mistakes during their away meet against Iowa next weekend.

The Illini won against the Hawkeyes by a narrow 195.325-195.150 last season. The team was one individual title away from a sweep.

The Big Five meet against Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio State and Rutgers will take place on Feb. 23, after the meet against Iowa. The next time the Illini will be back at Huff Hall will be against No. 7 Denver on March 1.

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Correction: The story originally stated that the team suffered a fall on beams when the fall occurred on bars. The Daily Illini regrets this error.