Women's Gymnastics
#14 Illinois Hangs Tough in Tight Loss to #6 Michigan

Sarah Fiedler finished in the top-5 in three of four events tonight and scored a 39.025 in the all-around.
Sarah Fiedler finished in the top-5 in three of four events tonight and scored a 39.025 in the all-around.

Feb. 7, 2014

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill.  - It was a nail-biter inside Huff Hall Friday night as #14 Illinois battled #6 Michigan in a Big Ten showdown between two of the top three squads in the conference. In the end, the Wolverines prevailed with the 195.800-195.575 win in a strictly-judged scoring affair. 

"The girls came out and did a really great job," said Illinois head coach Kim Landrus. "It's really hard when you lose by that little. Our girls were in it to the end. We hit 23-of-24 routines and we can certainly take away a lot of positives." 

The Illini started on vault where they scored above their season average with a 48.950. Giana O'Connor led Illinois with a 9.850, good for second place behind Michigan's Sachi Sugiyama and her 9.900. O'Connor's 9.850 also tied her career high that she set back at the Illinois Classic in March of last year. Amber See and Erin Buchanan also produced solid scores for the Orange and Blue on vault, both scoring a 9.825 in a tie for fourth. 

At the same time on bars, Michigan was forced to count a low score of 9.575. Thus, the team tallied a 48.725, well below their season average of 49.269. Therefore, after one rotation, Illinois led by 0.225 points. 

However, the Wolverines stormed back and reclaimed the lead after a strong second rotation on vault that resulted in a 49.125. Meanwhile on bars, Illinois recorded a 48.775, spearheaded by the trio of Sunny Kato, Elizabeth McNabb and Sarah Fiedler. Kato's 9.800 landed the junior in third place, as McNabb and Fiedler followed right behind with a 9.775 and 9.750, respectively. 

Down 0.125 heading into the third rotation, the Illini recorded a 48.950 on beam compared to Michigan's 49.100 on floor. The Orange and Blue took four of the top five spots on beam though, with McNabb and Kato leading the way in a tie for second (9.825) right behind Shelby Gies (9.850) of Michigan. In addition, Emily Lennon and Fiedler tied for fourth with a 9.775 each. 

Illinois outscored Michigan on the final rotation, tallying a 48.900 on floor compared to their 48.850 on beam, but it wasn't enough, falling to the Wolverines by 0.225 points. 

The Big Ten Freshman of the Week Erin Buchanan delivered another great performance, finishing in third place with the highest Illinois floor score on the night with a 9.825. Fiedler and See tied for fourth with a 9.800.

Michigan's Joanna Sampson, ranked second in the country in the all-around, finished in first with a 39.300. See (39.075) and Fiedler (39.025) finished in second and third respectively, both scoring over a 39 for the fourth time this season. 

Up next, the Orange and Blue hit the road for two straight weeks. First up is a Big Ten dual meet at Penn State on Feb. 15 at 3 p.m. CT. Then the Illini have a short trip to Normal, Ill. for the annual State of Illinois Classic on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. CT.