The UCLA Gymnastics team ended their tough three week road portion of the schedule with their third straight loss, losing to #4 Alabama 197.075-196.375. In a matchup of the two teams that have won the last three NCAA Championships, Alabama emerged as the victor in front of their home crowd.
Vanessa Zamarripa won the vault with a score of 9.95 and the uneven bars with a score of 9.9, but came in second in the all-around with an uncharacteristic performance on the floor. For complete statistics, click here.
The Bruins started the meet on uneven bars, with a team score of 49.05, led by Zamarripa's 9.90. Sophina DeJesus continued her solid freshman season with a 9.850 and Olivia Courtney contributed a 9.80. The Bruins fortunately did not have to count Lichelle Wong's bar routine, which had a problem with the dismount. Alabama started on vault, posting a team score of 49.275. Kaitlyn Clark led the Crimson Tide with a 9.90.
As the Bruins moved to the Vault, and Alabama to the Uneven Bars, UCLA managed to seize the lead back with a strong performance by Zamarripa's nearly perfect vault and a team score of 49.350, tying their season high. Courtney scored a 9.9, and Kaelie Baer earned a career high 9.90. Alabama was not as strong on the bars, scoring 49.00 as a team, led by Ashley Sledge's 9.850, in her only event of the night. Halfway through the meet, UCLA took the lead, 98.4-98.275.
As UCLA moved to the floor, one of their better, events, it all started to come apart for the second week in a row. DeJesus, who had been consistent and fun to watch on floor this year, came up short on two of her landings. Zamarripa fell and put her hands down on her "mount" or her first tumbling pass (but as the UCLA gymnastics twitter said, if you're going to fall, might as well be on a double layout) which is an automatic 0.50 deduction, along with another bobble on her other tumbling pass, leading to a 9.200 score, her lowest score of the season. Courtney led the Bruins with a 9.875 and Alyssa Pritchett had a lovely routine for a 9.850. Sadiqua Bynum was a last minute addition for the Bruins, taking Lichelle Wong's place, and scored 9.725, and the Bruins as a team scored 48.825. Alabama continued to be consistent on the beam, scoring a 49.350, led by Ashley Priess's 9.925. Their overall beam set was lovely, without major mistakes.
Down by four tenths heading into the balance beam, it was going to be difficult for the Bruins to catch up - they would need to be perfect and Alabama would need to have major mistakes in two separate routines. Things started off shaky for Bruins on the beam as Kaelie Baer fell, scoring only a 9.250. The remainder of the team picked her up, as Mattie Larson was solid on her routine, scoring a 9.90, and DeJesus and fellow freshman Danusia Francis both scored a 9.850. Zamarripa was a bit shaky on her routine, with more balance checks then we are accustomed to seeing from her, scoring only a 9.775 and a team score of 49.150. Alabama pleased their home crowd with a team score of 49.450, with a pair of 9.950's from Kim Jacob and Diandra Miller. For a second it looked like there may have a been a chance, as Lauren Beers fell on her routine, but the rest of the Crimson Tide dazzled on the floor.
Three losses in a row are crushing for any team, but the Gymnastics team is well coached and they were close - the major mistake made this week was made by a gymnast that usually makes none. Unfortunately it doesn't get easier as the Bruins welcome #3 Michigan, Cal, and Iowa State to Pauley on March 10th. The meet starts at 2pm. Hopefully the Bruins will be able to rebound with some home gym advantage.