If last week's win was about dominance, this week's win was about guts. LSU showed that even when it doesn't have its a-plus game, they can still find a way to win, and will fight you down to the very last routine.
Auburn staked out to an early lead on the first rotation, scoring a 49.500 on the vault while LSU scored a respectable 49.250 on the bars. There wasn't anything particularly wrong on the rotation that LSU normally dominates, just a series of solid performances leading to solid, yet not eye-popping scores.
LSU would take the lead back when it got a chance to put up the big score on the vault of 49.575. Auburn struggled out of the gate on the bars and still managed a 49.200, but it was enough of an opening for LSU to slide into a slight lead.
LSU went to the floor, where pretty much everyone watching expected LSU to further extend their lead while Auburn had to contend with the beam, that usual house of horrors. Caryn Kardous led off their rotation with a 9.875, setting the tone for Auburn. Megan Walker would be the only one to crack 9.9 with her 9.925 score, but almost all of the Auburn gymnasts were knocking on that door. Auburn ended up with a 49.275, which actually topped LSU's score on the floor.
LSU was in decent position on the floor when Ashleigh Gnat scored a 9.950 with only Rheagan and Lloimincia left in the rotation. And then, well not exactly disaster, but the expected excellence failed to occur. Rheagan scored a 9.800 followed by Hall's 9.875 (which is a bad score for her, such are the demands of unreasonable expectations).
After three rotations, LSU held a razor thin 148.075-147.975 lead. Worse yet, Auburn was headed to the floor exercise while LSU prepared to rotate to the usually low scoring beam. Buoyed by a rowdy home crowd, Auburn seemed poised to pull off the biggest upset of the year.
Auburn delivered on the floor exercise. Every gymnast scored at least a 9.800, though they lacked any real high scores. MJ Rott led the way with a 9.900. LSU was keeping pace when, this time, disaster actually did strike. Rheagan Courville only scored a 9.700 in her penultimate slot in the rotation. With each team having only one gymnast left, Auburn had a lead of 0.175. That's not insurmountable, but it is in the ballpark of it.
Kulleen Hlawek closed out the floor exercise for auburn with a decent 9.800 routine. It wasn't enough to move Auburn's final score on the rotation of 49.325 and overall score of 197.300. LSU needed a 9.875 from its anchor to tie, and a 9.900 or better to win. Jessie Jordan, who missed last week's meet due to injury, delivered in a big way. She scored a 9.925 in the most clutch of situations to deliver another victory to LSU, by a mere five-hundreths of a point: 197.350 to 197.300.
The usually reliable Rheagan Courville wobbled on her final two rotations, allowing Ashleigh Gnat to win her first all-around title in her career. I wouldn't expect Courville to have too many off nights like this one, but it is reassuring to know that when she does prove human, her teammates are there to pick up the slack.
This was a gut check win for the team.