BRISTOL, Tenn. – No. 10-ranked King (Tenn.) needed a strong performance in the final two events Tuesday night to pull out a narrow victory over No. 11-ranked West Liberty in a tight battle of nationally-ranked squad inside the Student Center Complex on the King University campus.
The host Tornados (3-1) prevailed by a final score of 263.995-259.210 but the issue remained in doubt until the final scores from the concluding Team event were revealed.
Trailing just 94.90-92.85 at the half, Coach Kelsey Kyle’s Hilltoppers (4-1) opened the second half with a school-record 9.15 score in the 450 Salto heat of the Toss Event and went on to win the event by a score of 26.75-26.60.
That cut the deficit under two points at 121.60-119.70 and even though the talented King squad came back strong with a 51.825-50.700 victory in the Tumbling Event, just three points separated the teams heading into the Team event.
Working from a start value of 101.81, West Liberty rose to the challenge. The Black and Gold matched their highest Team event score of the season with 88.81 points for a final tally of 259.210 points but it wasn’t enough to get over the hump.
King, with a similar start value of 101.17, didn’t quite match its highest team score of the season but still delivered a strong enough performance to hold off the visitors from the Mountain East Conference. The judges awarded the Tornado a score of 90.37, giving the hosts a win in the team score and pushing the final margin of the match out to 263.995-259.210.
The road doesn’t get any easier for West Liberty. Next up for the Hilltoppers is a March 16 trip to No. 6-ranked Gannon (Pa.), which is coming off an impressive upset win at No. 3-ranked Oregon on Saturday.