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A spirit that is not afraid

No. 5 Auburn Tigers defeat No. 20 NC State, improve to 2-0 at home

<p>Olivia Hollingsworth against NC State in Neville Arena on January 27, 2023.&nbsp;</p>

Olivia Hollingsworth against NC State in Neville Arena on January 27, 2023. 

The No. 5 Auburn Tigers are ending January 2-0 at Neville Arena with a win over the No. 20 North Carolina State Wolfpack. The Tigers were able to beat the Wolfpack 197.175-196.125. 

Senior Cassie Stevens won the all-around with a score of 39.600. She placed first on vault with a score of 9.925, and her 9.900 on beam put her in a four-way tie for first in the event. It was her first all-around win since 2021 and  her third career all around win. 

“I was really happy with my performance,” Stevens said. “I feel like just working on all those little finer details in the gym this week paid off.”

Stevens placed in the top two in all four events of the night and following the meet, head coach Jeff Graba emphasized his pride in the senior, speaking on her work ethic and attitude as a teammate. 

“I can’t say enough about her. Her attitude is perfect,” said Graba. “You know, she’s a team player. She does whatever you ask.”

Despite beating the Wolfpack by just over a point, the Tigers were not satisfied with their performance. They believe the best is yet to come for their team. 

“I think we made some mistakes, and those are definitely things we’re going to improve on in the future,” Stevens said. “I just feel like we haven’t really hit our stride yet. We know there’s so much more in the tank.”

Stevens is not the only one who thinks the Tigers have room for improvement — senior Aria Brusch also believes the Tigers have a lot to work on before they reach their stride. 

“It was slow and we were a little bit antsy,” Brusch said. “That’s something we need to work on. That’s not anything we should just leave. We still need to work on keeping our energy up throughout.”

Brusch tied for first on beam with a score of 9.990. She also competed on the floor and scored a 9.775. 

Auburn scored a 49.300 on the floor with Darrian Gobourne claiming the highest score for the event with her 9.975. A fan favorite, she received a ten from one of the meet's two judges and capped off the night with an uproar from Tiger fans in the audience.

“We’re all just so excited to see her out there because we know she can perform, and she can get the crowd hype,” Stevens said. “Everything comes together when she goes on the floor, and we’re always excited to be a part of that.”

The Tigers are back on the road next week as they face their in-state rival, the No. 13 Alabama Crimson Tide. Brusch believes the team is prepared for the loud environment they will face in Tuscaloosa. 

“It’s just like any other meet,” Brusch said. “Maybe they’re going to be a little bit louder and a little bit rowdier, but that’s what we prepare for in the gym.”

The Tigers travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the Crimson Tide Friday, Feb. 3 at 6:30 CST. The meet will be available to stream on SEC Network+. 

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Grace Heim | Sports Reporter

Grace Heim is a junior from Enterprise, Alabama, majoring in English Literature. She started with The Plainsman in January 2023.

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