UCLA Edged Out By One-Tenth At Masters Classic
Feb. 22, 2009
The third-ranked UCLA gymnastics team suffered its first loss since the season opener, finishing in second place to host Nebraska by just one-tenth of a point at the Masters Classic in Lincoln. The Bruins had to count a fall on the balance beam in the final rotation and scored 196.125, just behind Nebraska's 196.225.
The Bruins began the meet by scoring 48.975 on floor exercise. Freshman Kaelie Baer started the competition with a 9.75. Mizuki Sato followed with a 9.85, and Niki Tom earned 9.625 after stepping out of bounds. Freshman Aisha Gerber showed no lingering effects from her injury at last week's meet, debuting a new opening tumbling pass - a full-in - and scoring 9.825. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs earned a 9.875, and Brittani McCullough closed things out with a 9.675 after receiving a one-tenth out-of-bounds deduction and a split decision from the judges (9.85 from one judge, 9.7 from the other).
UCLA moved to vault for the second rotation and posted a nation-best 49.575. Freshman Vanessa Zamarripa led the way once again, scoring her second consecutive perfect 10 and third 10.0 of the season. Zamarripa floated her Yurchenko layout full vault to a easy stuck landing. Hopfner-Hibbs tied for second on the event with a career-high 9.95, and Gerber tied her career-best with a 9.9. Senior Ariana Berlin added a 9.85 in the leadoff spot, McCullough scored 9.875, and Sato recorded a 9.775 to help the Bruins move into first place at the halfway mark with a 98.55, 0.45 ahead of second-place Nebraska.
The Bruins extended their lead to 0.75 after scoring 49.2 on the uneven bars in the third rotation. Tom led off with a 9.75 in her first competitive uneven bars routine. Berlin tied for first overall on the event with a season-high 9.9, and McCullough, Zamarripa and Hofpner-Hibbs each scored 9.85 to finish the set.
UCLA closed the meet on balance beam but ran into problems, scoring just 48.375. In the leadoff position, Berlin fought hard for a 9.6 after going crooked on her full-twisting backhandspring, but she held on with remarkable strength to stay on the apparatus and save a fall. Bernholtz followed with her best routine of the season, scoring 9.85 to tie for first on the event. But the Bruins had two straight misses after that when both Tom (her first miss on any event this season) and Zamarripa suffered falls. Hopfner-Hibbs minimized the damage with a strong routine that merited 9.8, and Gerber hit a clean set, scoring 9.85. The scores were not enough, however, as Nebraska finished the meet with a 49.225 on floor to capture the victory.
The loss was the Bruins' second of the season and first since the season opener at Utah. Both losses came by just one-tenth of a point.
Hopfner-Hibbs tied for first in the all-around with fellow former Canadian national team member Kylie Stone of Nebraska, scoring 39.475. Hopfner-Hibbs has won two-straight all-around competitions and three overall in the season.
UCLA is back in action on Friday, Feb. 27 at Oregon State before returning home for a dual meet against defending NCAA champion Georgia on Sunday, Mar. 8 at 2 pm. The UCLA-Georgia meet will be televised live on FSN Prime Ticket.
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