Before the Terrapins gymnastics team performed on floor Monday in a tri-meet at Michigan, junior Sarah Faller knew her team needed a spark. During the first two rotations, the Terps had put together two of their worst results of the season.

“I told everyone, ‘We’ve been here before and we know how to fight for every tenth,'” Faller said. “‘We’re not going down without a fight.'”

Normally, though, Faller doesn’t have to use that many words to help motivate the team. Faller has competed first on vault, bars and beam in every meet this year, so she lets her performance set the tone.

And though the Terps finished behind both the third-ranked Wolverines and Eastern Michigan, Faller delivered in the leadoff spot. She hit all three of her routines and scored a 9.85 on bars to match her career high.

READ MORE: Terps fall to Michigan and Eastern Michigan in tri-meet

“Setting the tone is one of the most important jobs on the team,” coach Brett Nelligan said, “and she likes to be the one to do it.”

Faller’s teammates said consistency is valuable to the spot she occupies; it’s a trait she’s shown since arriving in College Park.

Faller has competed in every meet since her freshman year and has led off at least one event in each of those meets. Altogether, she’s performed a total of 76 routines for the Terps and has fallen just once.

That lone fall came on the balance beam in the first meet of her sophomore season. After leading off on beam in every meet of her freshman campaign, Faller moved back to performing third on the event to start the year.

But the experiment lasted just one more week before Faller returned to her customary position at the top of the lineup, where she has remained in every meet since.

“When you move back, you have to watch the gymnasts before you,” Faller said. “I like to get done with warm-ups, think in my head, smile at the judges and then get on the routine.”

Nelligan isn’t completely sure what allows Faller to fill her role so well, but he thinks her mindset could be a factor.

“She would rather the lineup go 49 than her go 9.9,” Nelligan said. “She cares about setting the table for everybody more than her own score.”

In addition, Faller takes her job very seriously but still realizes that it requires her to stay loose.

“College gymnastics is supposed to be so much fun,” Faller said. “The more fun you have, the better you do. I try to keep it really fun and really light.”

That persona led to her team-leading 9.85 on bars, the first time all season she’s had the team’s highest score on any event.

She might be missing the eye-popping scores some of her teammates can put up, but teammates said Faller’s value extends beyond the judge’s scores.

“You see her hit and it gets the ball rolling,” said sophomore Dominiquea Trotter, who competes on vault and beam. “Once she hits, it bounces off to the next person.”

Faller and the coaches are still open to moving her back in the lineup, but they’re hesitant considering her performance over the past two-plus years.

If she is moved back, scenes like Monday’s meeting before floor might become more common, as the Raleigh, North Carolina, native will no longer be setting the tone with her routines. Her words, though, seemed to motivate the Terps on Monday night.

The Terps hit all six of their floor routines after Faller spoke in the huddle; they finished the rotation with a score of 48.775, a significant improvement over the first two events of the meet (48.175 on bars and 48.325 on beam).

Then Faller returned to her usual job. She finished warm-ups, thought for a bit and flashed a smile at the judges before nailing her vault for a 9.775 and setting the table for the four hits that followed,

“I want my teammates to say, ‘I love going after Sarah,'” Faller said. “‘Because she makes me feel confident.'”