April 21, 2012
Duluth, Ga. - UCLA earned its third-highest NCAA Championships score ever, recording 197.750, but it wasn't enough at this year's NCAA Championships, which went to Alabama for the second-straight year. The Crimson Tide scored a tenth higher than the Bruins, 197.850, clinching the victory with a 9.95 on beam by its last competitor, Ashley Priess. Florida finished .025 ahead of the Bruins in second place with a score of 197.775. UCLA finished in third, followed by Stanford (197.5), Utah (197.375) and Arkansas (196.3).
The Bruins received monster performances by Vanessa Zamarripa, who scored a career-high 39.775 in the all-around and her sixth career perfect 10 on vault, and Samantha Peszek, who earned a career-high 39.675 in the all-around and career-bests on bars (9.925) and beam (9.95).
The competition went down to the wire in the final rotation. The luck of the draw had UCLA in the locker room in the last rotation after finishing up with a final score of 197.75. Florida needed to score 49.4 on floor exercise to overtake the Bruins, and Alabama needed 49.425 on balance beam to move ahead of UCLA. The last competitor for both the Gators and Crimson Tide decided UCLA's final placement. Florida's Kytra Hunter needed 9.9 to push them ahead of the Bruins, and she scored 9.925, but Preiss finished up on beam for Alabama with the meet-winning 9.95.
"We were committed to having a great time and leaving it all on the floor and having no regrets, and that's what we did," said UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field.
UCLA had a solid start on floor exercise in the first rotation, scoring 49.35. Leadoff scores of 9.85 by Tauny Frattone and 9.875 by Zamarripa helped set the tone. Olivia Courtney and Peszek had the team's high marks with a pair of 9.9s, and Alyssa Pritchett added a 9.825.
The Bruins got the momentum flowing on vault in the second rotation, scoring 49.525 thanks to five stuck vaults and Zamarripa's perfect 10, the sixth of her career. The rotation started with three straight sticks, from Kaelie Baer (9.825), Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs (9.85) and Peszek (9.9). Courtney added a 9.875, and Frattone (9.9) and Zamarripa (10.0) closed with a pair of stuck vaults to bring UCLA's two-event total to 98.875.
While UCLA sat on a bye in the third rotation, both Alabama and Florida moved ahead of the Bruins. Alabama scored 49.625 on vault to put the Crimson Tide in first at the halfway mark with 99.075. Florida scored 49.425 on bars to inch ahead of UCLA with 98.9. Stanford on beam and Utah on floor each scored 49.325 to remain tied in fourth with 98.675. Arkansas sat in sixth with 98.4.
The Bruins went big on uneven bars in the fourth rotation, tying their season high with a 49.475. Zamarripa earned a perfect 10 from one judge on her routine and finished with a 9.95. Peszek tied her career-high with a 9.925, Aisha Gerber scored 9.9, Courtney scored 9.875, and Mattie Larson earned 9.825.
UCLA moved to beam to close its competition in rotation five. After a fabulous save by Gerber kept her on her feet after missing a foot on her dismount, Baer tied her career-high for the second-straight night, scoring 9.875. Larson earned 9.9, and Zamarripa earned a season-best 9.95. Peszek closed with a career-high 9.95 to give the Bruins a 49.4 total.