For LSU’s Ashleigh Gnat, there was perfection, and then there was perfection Friday night against Alabama.
The senior all-arounder flew to a perfect 10 on vault, helping her and fellow seniors Sydney Ewing and Shae Zamardi finish with an unblemished record in four career regular-season meets against the Crimson Tide after a 197.575-197.100 victory in Tuscaloosa.
No. 1 LSU improved to 2-0 with the win. No. 4 Alabama dropped to 0-2 after a 197.750-196.700 loss last week at previous No. 1 Oklahoma.
“I definitely have been thinking about that,” Gnat said of her record against Alabama. “I’m just so proud of this team. Beating Alabama at home is a hard thing to do. But we did what we do best, which was just be ourselves. We had a great time.”
It was just the Tigers’ fourth win in 29 road meets at Alabama but their second straight after ending the Crimson Tide’s 49-meet home winning streak in 2015.
“They have it together,” LSU coach D-D Breaux said. “We talk to the team about staying in the ‘purple zone.’ They did everything we ask them to do.”
LSU moved up one spot to No. 1 after last week’s 197.825-193.600 home win over Georgia. It was the best opening-meet score in school history and the best opening score for any NCAA women’s team in at least the past 20 years, according to the school.
Still, strong scores on the road can be harder to come by.
“You have to get used to (being on the road) because we’re not gong to be at home in any of our postseason competitions,” Breaux said.
Starting on bars, the Tigers got an anchoring 9.90 from Lexie Priessman to narrowly trail the Crimson Tide 49.200-49.175 after Bama started well on vault.
Moving to vault for its second rotation, LSU surged to a 49.600 to take a 98.775-98.450 lead it wouldn’t relinquish. In addition to Gnat’s 10, the Tigers also got a 9.925 from Myia Hambrick and 9.90s from Priessman and freshman Kennedi Edney.
Priessman also had a 9.90 on bars.
For Gnat, a senior and 11-time All-American, it was her seventh career 10 and her third on vault. She’s tied for third in career 10s at LSU with former great Lloimincia Hall.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Gnat said. “I don’t get a say in what the score will be, but it feels great to be able to do that in an away environment.”
Gnat and Hambrick followed up on floor with 9.95s to lead LSU to a score of 49.500 in that event.
LSU opened the door a bit for Alabama on the final rotation as Sydney Ewing fell on beam and got a score of 8.975. But Sarah Finnegan followed with a team-best score of 9.925, and Gnat sewed up the team win with a score of 9.775.
Breaux said it was a good sign to see her team deal with adversity in a tough road setting.
“(A fall) didn’t happen to us last week or in intersquad,” Breaux said. “They learned everyone is crucial to the process.”
Hambrick and Alabama’s Kiana Winston shared the meet’s all-around title with scores of 39.600. Finnegan was third at 39.525.
“She was such the person today,” Breaux said of Hambrick. “She holds everything together. She’s so mature in her process. We’re just extremely proud of what she can do.”
LSU returns home next Friday for a 7:30 p.m. meet with Texas Woman’s University in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.