Behind a career-best performance on the all-around from senior Kianna Yancey, the West Virginia University gymnastics team finished in second place in its 2023 home opener against Kent State and Maryland, inside the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown on Friday night.
In the squad’s first-ever 80’s Night, the Mountaineers (3-2) earned a season-best 195.1 to finish the night in second place. The total marked WVU’s first score of 195.0+ this season. Maryland earned the top spot, posting a 195.425 for first place, while Kent State took third place with a score of 194.475.
Yancey was the lone all-around competitor for West Virginia, as she tallied a career-best 39.25 total on all four events to earn first place in the all-around. She earned a 9.775 or better on every event, with her best score of the night, a 9.85, coming on floor exercise. She began the meet with a 9.825 in her season debut on vault, before earning a 9.8 on uneven bars and a 9.775 on balance beam. She earned at least a tie for first place in every event but vault, while her win on the all-around was just her second career all-around victory.
Rotating in Olympic order for the first time this season, West Virginia earned a season-best 48.9 team total on vault. The squad was led by a pair of season-high 9.825s from Yancey and junior Kiana Lewis, which tied the duo for second place overall. Senior Abbie Pierson added a 9.775, before sophomore Brooke Alban and freshman Carlee Nelson rounded out the scoring with a 9.725 and 9.75, respectively.
Moving on to bars, the Mountaineers posted a 48.425 total, while Yancey again led the way with a season-best 9.8. Fifth-year senior Kendra Combs opened her home slate with a 9.75, before senior Emily Holmes-Hackerd and sophomore Anna Leigh tallied a pair of 9.725s. Unfortunately, WVU was forced to count a low, 9.425 from junior Chloe Asper after a fall in the No. 3 spot.
WVU began to gain momentum in the third rotation, securing a season-best 48.675 on balance beam. A trio of 9.775 scores from Yancey, Combs and Asper led the way, while Pierson earned a 9.7. Nelson and Holmes-Hackerd completed the lineup with matching 9.65s. Yancey, Combs and Asper finished in a three-way tie for first place in the final event standings.
Floor exercise was once again the best event of the night for the Mountaineers, as they earned their lone 49.0+ score of the night with a 49.1 total. Four of the five scoring gymnasts earned a 9.8 or better, with the fifth score – a 9.775 from Lewis – just shy of the 9.8 mark. Holmes-Hackerd and Yancey earned a pair of 9.85s for the second straight meet, as well as a tie for first place. Pierson was just below that mark a 9.825, and Leigh completed the scoring with a 9.8.
Of note, WVU’s crowd of 1,276 marked its highest attendance at a home opener since 2019. Additionally, Nelson made her collegiate debut on balance beam on Friday night.
Up next, West Virginia returns to the road for a quad meet at Towson on Friday, Jan. 20. The Mountaineers will be joined in Towson, Maryland, by New Hampshire and West Chester, with action inside SECU Arena is tabbed for 6 p.m. ET.