Mountaineer gymnastics plays host to Pitt in regular-season finale

Gold and Blue Nation

The West Virginia University gymnastics team closes out the Backyard Brawl series with a meet in Morgantown on Sunday, March 14, as the Mountaineers play host to Pitt in their regular-season finale.

Competition is set to begin at 2 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+. Direct links to the video stream and live stats can be found on the gymnastics schedule page at WVUsports.com.

Due to ongoing COVID-19 protocols, and for the overall safety of spectators at indoor events, attendance will be capped at 2,800 spectators. Priority will be given to families and guests of the gymnasts and gymnastics coaching staffs, along with a limited number of WVU students and fans.

Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance by visiting WVUGAME.com or calling 1-800-WVU GAME to avoid lines at the gate on meet day. When purchasing online, tickets are $5 each. At the ticket window on meet day, any remaining tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for youth and seniors. The discounted online pricing will be available until the start of competition.

The Mountaineer Ticket Office, as well as the Gold Gate, opens an hour before competition on meet day. WVU students are admitted for free with a valid Student I.D. All tickets are reserved in blocks, ranging from one to six seats, and socially distanced. When purchasing tickets, the system will allocate the best seats available based on the quantity selected.

Facemasks will be required of all spectators entering the arena and should be worn at all times, with the exception of when eating and drinking.

A season-high total helped WVU (1-7, 0-6 Big 12) capture a win over Pitt (6-9-1, 5-7-1 EAGL) in the first meeting on March 5, before the Panthers evened the three-meet series with a 195.100-194.675 victory on Friday. Both meets took place at Fitzgerald Field House in Pittsburgh.

Despite Friday night’s loss, the Mountaineers took home the team titles on three events, defeating the Panthers on vault (48.8-48.65), uneven bars (49.075-48.725) and floor exercise (49.15-48.95). Pitt claimed the team victory on balance beam (48.775-47.65).

WVU scored a season high on bars and matched its season best on vault. The squad also has posted a 49.0 or better on floor in six of its last seven meets. Individually, six Mountaineer gymnasts earned 10 podium finishes, with freshman Kiana Lewis winning the vault title outright for her first career event win.

Additionally, junior Rachel Hornung competed in the all-around for the third time in her career and the second time this season, posting a personal-best mark of 39.1 and placing third.

WVU is 66-17-2 all-time against Pitt. The Mountaineers also hold a 26-11-1 record in Pittsburgh, as well as a 20-4-1 mark inside the WVU Coliseum. The two squads last met in Morgantown on March 1, 2020, when Pitt claimed its first win over the Mountaineers inside the WVU Coliseum since 1984.

Fourteen Mountaineers have competed in at least one meet this season, with 11 gymnasts reaching the podium. In all, WVU boasts 44 podium finishes on the year. Sophomore Abbie Pierson leads the team with seven, followed by junior Kendra Combs with six and sophomore Kianna Yancey with five.

Yancey paces the team with 242.9 season points, followed by classmate Emily Holmes-Hackerd with 240.8. Pierson and Yancey also look to eclipse the 500 career-point mark on Sunday.

On Friday, Pitt’s Olivia Miller won a pair of individual titles outright. She scored a winning, 9.9 mark on bars and topped the all-around competition with a score of 39.25.

Looking ahead, the Mountaineers’ postseason slate starts with the 2021 Big 12 Gymnastics Championship, set for March 20, at the WVU Coliseum, in Morgantown.

WVU was set to host last year’s event, but its season was cut short just before the conference championship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. West Virginia previously hosted the event in 2014, with Hope Sloanhoffer becoming the first Mountaineer gymnast to win a Big 12 title in the all-around event.

For more information on the Mountaineers, visit WVUsports.com and follow WVUGymnastics on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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