Everything was going smoothly for the women's gymnastics team on Friday at Ann Arbor.
No. 14 Penn State was leading rival No. 15 Michigan 146.825 to 146.650 with one event left. The Lions finished on the beam, an event they averaged 48.730 for the season.
But Penn State struggled and only scored 48.100 on beam and fell to the Wolverines 195.800 to 194.925. The loss left the stunned Lions searching for answers.
"It's very disappointing to fall apart on beam," coach Steve Shephard said. "I don't know what it was. They didn't do what they're capable of."
Two gymnasts fell while only co-captain Allie Southard scored above 9.800 when she hit a 9.850. But the first gymnast struggled and the second fell, putting pressure on the Lions and squelched their confidence.
The collapse on beam ruined an otherwise great night for Penn State.
"Honestly it was a good meet for us," co-captain Rosie Smith said. "Beam was uncharacteristic of us. I really don't know why."
The meet started with freshman Natalie Ettl winning her first bars title with a 9.850. Ettl was a "little surprised" at the win, especially because she was the first gymnast of the entire meet to compete for Penn State. The team finished with a 48.975 for bars.
The meet continued to go in the favor of the Lions as junior Brandi Personett won the vault with a 9.950, helping the team get 48.975 for the vault. Personett tied for first for the floor title with Michigan's Kylee Botterman, with both scoring a 9.900. Penn State finished with a 48.875 on floor.
Despite the lead and momentum, Penn State seemed lost on beam.
"Beam was a little shaky," junior Casey Rohrbaugh said. "We lost our confidence on beam."
Confidence has been an issue for the Lions all season. A week after scoring the highest score since 2007, the Lions "looked like they lacked confidence" on the beam, Shephard said.
"With the meet on the line and pressure on, you've gotta be able to handle it," he added.
The struggles on beam overshadow a positive for Penn State, which is that it scored the most points in a road meet all year while at Ann Arbor, despite the low beam score. Rohrbaugh was proud Penn State scored a season-high on the road despite "so many errors" and the troubles on beam.
And although Penn State's three lowest scores are on the road, Rohrbaugh, Smith and Ettl all said the road is not a factor.
"We compete just as hard on the road," Ettl said.
She admitted it is more fun at home with the crowd, but playing away has no affect on their confidence, she said.
"We'll work on beam and beat 'em at Big Tens," Ettl said, "which'll be more fun."