Inconsistency can be a haunting thing in sports and it haunted the Nebraska women’s gymnastics team Friday against No. 22 Illinois at the Devaney Sports Center.
After trailing Illinois by a thin margin of 97.675-97.600 after two rotations, the No. 20 Huskers limped the rest of the way in a 195.475-193.400 defeat in their season-opening nonconference match.
Nebraska scored a 48.025 on the balance beam and a meet-low 47.775 on floor after scoring 48.800 in each of the first two events.
“I think today gave us a great opportunity to see where we’re at, and we can’t make those bigger mistakes on balance beam and there’s no reason they should have made those mistakes,” Nebraska coach Heather Brink said.
What didn’t help matters was the lack of a crowd for team energy, a factor that has a heavy influence in college gymnastics. Only parents were allowed to attend, according to Big Ten rules, and it created an atmosphere that Brink and her team have never faced before in a competition.
“Yeah, it was a little weird, to be quite honest,” Brink said. “It’s just nobody really knew completely what to expect coming into this because this is the first time we’ve ever done a meet in a pandemic.”
However, there were still some bright spots for Nebraska. Kynsee Roby earned the event title on the beam with a 9.875, her best score in three years.
“It just felt really good to get back out there and finally compete again and just shake the nerves off and go out there and hit a good routine,” Roby said.
With a relatively young team this season, Brink mentioned that the Huskers will have to rely on the junior to score those big routines if they want to be successful.
“She’s had those three years, so she’s a veteran on this team and we’ve needed to rely on her,” Brink said. “… She definitely has the capabilities to deliver some scores for us on multiple events, which is great.”
The Illini took home three of the five event titles, including the only 9.900 score from Kaitlyn Ewald on uneven bars. Lexi Powe won vault with a 9.825, and Shaylah Scott won floor exercise with a 9.875.
Nebraska returns to action on Jan. 23 in its Big Ten conference opener at Penn State.
“We’ve got to get back in gym and just continue to drive home that consistency and be able to make it," Brink said.