Triple Threat – Azusa Pacific University Athletics

AZUSA, Calif. † In a showdown of three of the top six NCATA programs, Azusa Pacific’s acrobatics and tumbling program put together a hard-fought victory, defeating both Gannon and Hawai’i Pacific inside the Felix Event Center Tuesday evening. The Cougars put up a score of 275,600, which was good enough to hold off both sixth-ranked Gannon (269,965) and fifth-ranked Hawai’i Pacific (251,771).

How It Happened: While the Cougars were squaring off against the Sharks for the second time this season, they faced a tough challenge from the Golden Knights, who came into the match with three wins already this year. Gannon took an early lead in the compulsory event, edging out the Cougars by two-tenths of a point, 37.65-37.45. The Cougars would rebound in the acro event, with all three heats scoring a 9.7 or better, highlighted by a 9.90 from the 6-element team of Jacie Van de ZilverEllie SousaMadiha Morrisand Payton Springer† Azusa Pacific won the event by seven tenths over Gannon, while opening up a seven-point advantage over Hawai’i Pacific.

Van de Zilver, Morris, and Springer were at it again in the open pyramid heat, this time getting some help from their teammates to record a 9.95. The Cougars edged out the Golden Knights by a tenth of a point in the event, stretching their lead to six tenths over Gannon and nearly eight points over the Sharks at halftime. The strong partnership of Van de Zilver and Morris was on display once more in the first toss heat after the intermission, which also scored a 9.95 as the Cougars scored more than 29 out of a possible 30 points for the third event in a row, finally pushing their edge over the Golden Knights to more than a point for the first time all evening.

Azusa Pacific took firm control of the match with a clean run in the tumbling event. The three solo tumbling passes performed by Van de Zilver, Jessica Gilland freshman Mckenna Dawson each registered a score of 9.85 or higher as the Cougars extended their lead to more than four points entering the team event, where they again won the event with a score of 93.05 to seal a six-point win over the Golden Knights while the Sharks finished in third place.

By the Numbers: For the purposes of win-loss records, Azusa Pacific is credited with two wins; while Gannon, with their second-place finish, receives both a win and a loss. This was the first three-team meet the Cougars have competed in since March of 2016, when they defeated both Hawai’i Pacific and Fairmont State at home. Azusa Pacific is now 3-0 all-time against Gannon, and has won nine consecutive matches against Hawai’i Pacific dating back to the 2017 national quarterfinals. With the pair of wins, the Cougars improved their record to 3-0 on the season, the fourth time in the last five years that they have done so.

Up Next: The Cougars will be back in action at home next Tuesday when they host East Texas Baptist for the first time. The match is scheduled to begin at 7:00 pm, and can be seen on Cougars All Access

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