Feb. 15, 2013
STANFORD, Calif. -
The Stanford women's gymnastics team put together the team performance it had been searching for all season in Friday night's showdown against Arizona State.
And the best part, says head coach Kristen Smyth, is the team's potential is even greater.
Stanford (7-2) delivered its most dominating performance of the season, recording a season-best overall team score, to defeat Arizona State (2-5), 197.275-195.250, in front of a energized crowd of over 1,400 in Maples Pavilion.
There were numerous highlights throughout the night with four different Cardinal claiming first-place finishes on each apparatus, and outscoring the Sun Devils as a team in every event.
But the night belonged to senior Ashley Morgan, who capped her night with a first-place finish on floor exercise with a 9.950 en route to a career high all-around title scoring 39.550.
"She's one of the top all-arounders in the country," said Smyth. "She has been steady and getting better every single weekend."
Morgan tied her career best on floor (9.950) and balance beam (9.900), and earned a season-best on uneven bars (9.875).
Stanford got off to a great start on vault, where it was led by sophomore Ivana Hong, who claimed the individual title with a 9.900, tying her season-best. She was joined in the top two by senior Nicole Dayton who notched a 9.875.
The Cardinal kept the momentum going on bars where it recorded a season-high team score of 49.375 and claimed the meet's top six scores with each gymnast scoring a 9.800 or higher.
Sophomore Kristina Vaculik led the way, matching her career-best of 9.925, for a first-place finish. All-Americans Samantha Shapiro and Morgan joined Vaculik in the top three with scores of 9.900 and 9.875, respectively.
Sophomore Alex Archer
made her second appearance of the season in the event and recorded a career-best 9.825 to finish fifth.
The night didn't come without its adversity, however.
After a strong start on balance beam with Shona Morgan and Ashley Morgan hitting their routines for scores of 9.825 and 9.900, the team had an uncharacteristic miss from Hong.
Instead of losing its composure, Stanford junior Amanda Spinner delivered the night's best score on beam and tied her career best with a 9.925. It was a performance that seemed to settle the Cardinal and help the team maintain its momentum.
"I loved the way the team dug down deeply and covered each other with great routines," Smyth said. "Amanda Spinner's routine was clutch tonight."
Not only did Stanford recover from the missed routine, it posted its second-highest team score of the season in the event with a 49.375.
Stanford saved perhaps its most impressive performance of the night for last, on floor. Though, it didn't come without its own challenge.
The Cardinal's first performer had a missed routine, which meant the rest of the performer's scores would likely count toward the team score.
The Cardinal didn't disappoint and delivered five consecutive scores of 9.775 or higher and claimed the top three spots in the event, highlighted by Ashley Morgan's 9.950.
Shona Morgan tied her career best (9.925) and Shapiro set a career best (9.875) to finish second and third. Freshman Taylor Rice anchored the floor team with a career-best performance of her own, earning a 9.875 to tie Shapiro for third.
A major focus in practice has been on finishing meets strong, specifically on floor, said Smyth, who believes the lineup in the event will only continue to strengthen.
Stanford will look to carry its momentum from the meet into next weekend's marquee Pac-12 matchup with No. 6 Utah in Salt Lake City.
"We're right on track with where we want to be," said Smyth. "There's still room for improvement. We don't want to be at our very best this weekend or next. We want to keep getting better and making improvements."
The meet against Arizona State will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks on Saturday, Feb. 16 at noon (PT).