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UCLA Athletics
Olivia Courtney won vault and bars vs. Florida (photo by Don Liebig)
No. 4 UCLA Edged by Smallest Margin by No. 1 Florida
By: UCLA Athletics
No. 4 UCLA went toe-to-toe with No. 1 and defending NCAA champion Florida in the 2014 season opener in front of 5,265 fans but came up just short by the smallest possible margin, 196.650-196.625.

The Bruins took the lead at the halfway mark after strong performances on vault (49.35) and bars (49.25) but had three sub-9.6 scores on beam that allowed Florida to regain the lead by three-tenths of a point. UCLA narrowed the gap in the final rotation with a killer floor exercise set that saw all six routines go 9.8 or higher, but Florida's 49.1 on beam was just enough to secure the win.

UCLA's veteran trio of Olivia Courtney, Samantha Peszek and Sydney Sawa led the Bruins with confident, high-scoring routines. Courtney tied her career-highs on vault with a 9.975 (Watch Here) and bars with a 9.9 to capture first place on those events. She also scored 9.9 on floor to place second. Peszek had a successful return to competition after redshirting in 2013 with a torn Achilles. Peszek won beam with a 9.925 and tied for third on bars with a 9.875. Sawa added a pair of 9.9s on vault (3rd place) and floor (T-2nd place).

Sophomore Danusia Francis continued to provide the buzzworthy moments in the sport, becoming the first collegiate gymnast to connect a sideways aerial into a full-twisting dismount off the side of the beam (Watch Here). Her unique and challenging dismount led her to a score of 9.9. Francis also set a new career-high on her saucy floor routine, scoring 9.875, and scored 9.85 on bars.

Redshirt sophomore Ellette Craddock returned to competition after sitting out a year and performed solid routines on bars (9.775) and beam (9.575), and Sadiqua Bynum set a new career-high on vault with a 9.725 and debuted a double layout on floor that led to a career-high-tying score of 9.85.

UCLA's freshmen made strong debuts, with Angi Cipra recording 9.85s on both vault and floor and Hallie Mossett scoring 9.775 on beam and 9.75 on bars.

"Obviously I'm disappointed with how beam went because that's definitely not how we've been training beam," said UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field. "But the thing that I am pleased with was they looked good up there. They didn't look nervous. Hallie Mossett started off a little nervous, but as she got going, she got more and more confident, and that's something that I look at to see if they can compete under pressure, and she definitely can. I was just really thrilled with how the whole team did."

UCLA (0-1) returns to action on Sunday, Jan. 19 vs. Oregon State in Pauley Pavilion at 6pm. The meet will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks. Tickets are available at

UCLA Health Sponsor - Event Information
Saturday, Apr 02
vs. NCAA Regionals
Salt Lake City, UT
2nd, 196,375
Friday, Apr 15
vs. NCAA Team Semifinals
Fort Worth, TX
3rd, 196.700
Saturday, Apr 16
vs. NCAA Super Six
Fort Worth, TX
5th, 196.825