WACO, Texas -- Azusa Pacific could get used to this.
Less than a week after avenging its first acrobatics and tumbling defeat of the 2014 season by snapping the University of Oregon’s national-record 31-meet winning streak, the Cougars returned the favor again by visiting Baylor and posting a 280.875-277.955 victory over the Bears Saturday night at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.
Azusa Pacific won three of the first four events, but Baylor’s half-point edge in the tumbling event cut the Cougars’ lead to just six-tenths of a point heading into the team event. Just as it did with the meet on the line in Monday’s narrow victory over Oregon, Azusa Pacific came through with a 98.70 team performance to pull away at the end over Baylor, which registered 96.38 points.
Saturday’s team event was only a quarter-point shy of Monday’s season-best 98.95 tally, and the Cougars matched their season-high in the acro event (28.75) and surpassed a season-best in toss with a 28.90-point effort.
Baylor edged ahead in the opening event after splitting the four heats of the compulsory event, taking advantage of Azusa Pacific’s low 9.05 score in compulsory tumbling to lead by five-hundredths of a point after one event. The Cougars claimed two of three heats in acro to gain the lead for good, and an overall win in the pyramid event extended Azusa Pacific’s halftime lead to four-tenths of a point.
A sweep in all three heats of the toss event pushed the lead past a full point (125.05 to 123.95) heading into a back-and-forth battle through all six heats of tumbling. Baylor was deducted 1.3 points in the trio pass, scoring an 8.70, but Azusa Pacific registered just 8.70 points on its quad pass the very next heat.
Both teams were much sharper in the three solo tumbling passes that closed out the event. Baylor scored 9.90 or better in all three, including Kiara Nowlin’s perfect-10 on the six-element tumbling pass. Still, the Cougars only conceded two-tenths of a point’s difference over the final three heats. Sophomore Ahnaliese Spitzer scored 9.95 on the aerial pass, senior Jessica Laughton scored 9.825 on her six-element pass, and sophomore Jamie Montgomery registered 9.85 on the open pass to keep the lead for Azusa Pacific heading into the final event with the six-tenths of a point margin.
With the win, the Cougars wrap up the regular season with a 5-2 record and two high-quality wins in the final week. The NCATA regular season concludes Sunday when Fairmont State visits King (Tenn.). After that, the NCATA spotlight shifts to the Felix Event Center, as Azusa Pacific hosts the 2014 NCATA National Championships April 24-26.