No. 3 UCLA Gymnastics Team Travels To Arizona State For Friday Dual Meet

Jan. 28, 2009

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Bruins Travel To Tempe -- The third-ranked UCLA gymnastics team (4-1) will travel to Tempe, AZ to take on 16th-ranked Arizona State in a Pac-10 Conference dual meet on Friday, Jan. 30. The meet will take place at Wells Fargo Arena at 7:30 pm MT.

Live Coverage -- Arizona State will provide updated stats at the end of each rotation at

In The Rankings -- UCLA improved its season average to 196.544 but dropped down one spot in the national rankings to No. 3, percentage points behind No. 1 Georgia (196.65) and No. 2 Utah (196.583). The Bruins, however, are now the No. 1 ranked team in the nation on vault with an average of 49.269 and rank fourth on floor (49.119) and fifth on bars (49.1) and beam (49.056).

UCLA has two freshmen ranked No. 1 in the nation on an individual event. Vanessa Zamarripa is the nation's No. 1 vaulter, averaging 9.925, and Aisha Gerber is tied for first on balance beam with a 9.9 average. In addition, Zamarripa ranks 10th on bars (9.862), and Gerber ranks 16th on vault (9.862). Freshman Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs is the Bruins' top-ranked all-arounder, checking in at 19th (39.217). She also ranks sixth on beam (9.887). Also ranked are sophomore Mizuki Sato, who is ninth on floor (9.869); redshirt sophomore Brittani McCullough, who ranks fifth on vault (9.887) and 10th on bars (9.862); and senior Ariana Berlin, who ranks 16th on bars (9.85).

About The Sun Devils -- Arizona State (0-2) set a season-high last weekend in a dual meet loss at Oregon State, scoring 194.6. The Sun Devils are ranked 16th overall, ninth on beam, 18th on vault and 20th on bars.Senior Nicole Harris ranks 11th in the all-around and 20th on beam. Arizona State first-year assistant coach Jamie Dantzscher won four NCAA individual titles and three NCAA team titles at UCLA from 2001-04.

The Series With Arizona State -- UCLA holds a 43-23 regular season record against ASU with eight consecutive wins. The Sun Devils last beat the Bruins in 2001 in Tempe, 196.35-196.0. The two teams met up in the season opener a year ago in Las Vegas, and UCLA outscored the Sun Devils, 194.975-192.475.

Bruins Break 197 Barrier In Win Over Cal -- UCLA scored its first 197 team mark in two years, posting a 197.125-190.575 victory over California on Jan. 25. The Bruins used a season-best 49.5 on uneven bars to build momentum and closed the meet with another season-best, scoring 49.35 on floor to attain the 197 mark. A trio of Bruin freshmen swept the all-around standings, with Aisha Gerber winning the meet with a career-high 39.55, UCLA's highest all-around mark this year. Vanessa Zamarripa set a new career-best to place second with a 39.5, and Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs was third with her second 39.4+ score in three days (39.45).

UCLA Vaults To Victory At Fullerton -- Behind a perfect 10 on vault by Vanessa Zamarripa and career-best performances on all four events from Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs, UCLA improved upon its season-best team score with a 196.6-193.875 victory at Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 23. The Bruins were spectacular in the first two rotations, scoring 49.225 on bars and 49.525 on vault. With a career-high 9.95 on her first vault of the season, Brittani McCullough set her teammates up for huge marks, and Zamarripa delivered with a perfect 10. Hopfner-Hibbs won the all-around with a UCLA season-best 39.525 and captured first-place honors on bars, beam and floor.

Zamarripa Achieves Perfection -- Freshman Vanessa Zamarripa became the first gymnast in the nation this year to score a perfect 10 on vault with her flawless Yurchenko full vault at Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 23. Zamarripa's 10 was the first by a UCLA gymnast since Kristina Comforte did the same, also at Fullerton, in 2006.

Freshmen Sweep Pac-10 Weekly Honors -- UCLA's freshman tandem of Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs and Vanessa Zamarripa were honored with Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week and Pac-10 Special Performance of the Week honors, respectively, for Jan. 20-26.

Hopfner-Hibbs, a 2008 Olympian from Toronto, ON, tackled a full program last weekend, competing in the all-around twice in three days. On Friday evening she topped a Bruin sweep of the all-around (39.525) and led the way in UCLA's decisive victory over Cal State Fullerton (196.6-193.875). In addition to the all-around, Hopfner-Hibbs captured three individual titles at Fullerton, including beam (9.925), floor (9.9), and bars (9.85, tie). Every performance by Hopfner-Hibbs on Friday night resulted in a career-high mark. Hopfner-Hibbs came back two days later against California to claim two additional victories and third-place honors in the all-around (39.45). Setting standards of 9.9 (T-1st) on both beam and floor, she compiled a total of four 9.9+ scores over the weekend and recorded no performance weaker than 9.825.

Just one week after garnering Pac-10 Gymnast of the Week (Jan. 13-19) accolades, Zamarripa earned a perfect 10 on vault at Cal State Fullerton on Friday. The first gymnast in the nation this year to score a perfect mark on vault, the O'Fallon, Ill., native is also the first gymnast in the Conference to record a 10.0 on any apparatus in 2009. Zamarripa performed a perfect Yurchenko layout full with a stuck landing to catapult her season average on vault to 9.925, the top rating in the nation. Furthermore, she has won vault titles on the apparatus in three consecutive meets. Zamarripa also claimed first-place honors on bars in both of UCLA's dual meets this weekend, marking career-highs of 9.95 (bars) and 39.5 (all-around, 2nd) against the Golden Bears.

Youth Is Served -- With seven freshmen and five sophomores on a 16-member squad, the 2009 Bruins are undoubtedly a young team, and they have been put to the test immediately, with the underclassmen holding 22 of the 24 slots in the competitive lineup in the first two meets of the season.

The freshman class alone competed 16 of the 24 routines in the season opener. Two freshmen competed in the all-around at Utah - Aisha Gerber, who placed third in the all-around and won the balance beam, and Vanessa Zamarripa, who placed fourth in the all-around and third on vault. Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs competed on three events and earned a third-place finish on beam. Kaelie Baer hit 3-for-3 on her routines, scoring 9.8 on vault, 9.775 on beam and 9.75 on floor. Alyssa Pritchett had a successful showing as well, scoring 9.8 on vault as a last-minute substitute for Ariana Berlin. Five freshmen saw action on vault - Gerber, Zamarripa, Baer, Tauny Frattone and Pritchett.

The sophomores have come up big so far, hitting 20-of-21 routines for 9.7 or better, including three 9.9s from Mizuki Sato on vault and floor, a 9.875 on floor and 9.85 on beam for Niki Tom, and a pair of 9.8s on beam for Marci Bernholtz. Allison Taylor scored 9.75 on her last exhibition bars performance and had a 9.725 on a floor exhibition at Utah.

Upperclassmen On Their Way Back -- After starting the season limited to no more than one event, the Bruin upperclassmen are on their way back to all-around action. Senior Ariana Berlin and junior Anna Li, who were limited to uneven bars only in the first two meets, both competed on beam at Cal State Fullerton and gave the Bruins a pair of 9.85 scores. Berlin returned on vault against Cal and scored 9.775 in the leadoff position. Redshirt sophomore Brittani McCullough, who performed exhibition routines on vault and bars against Arizona, competed on those two events in both meets last week and earned a career-high 9.95 on vault at Fullerton and a career-high 9.925 on bars against Cal.

Berlin's Streak Remains Intact -- Senior Ariana Berlin's streak of consecutive meets has increased to 48 after competing in both meets last weekend. Berlin, who joined the UCLA squad in 2006 as a walk-on who had not competed in five years, has competed in every meet of her collegiate career.

Looking Ahead -- The Bruins face Pac-10 rival Stanford on Sunday, Feb. 8 at 2 pm in Burnham Pavilion on the Stanford campus. UCLA and Stanford are currently ranked No. 3 and 4, respectively, in the national rankings. UCLA returns home on Sunday, Feb. 15 for a quad meet against Washington, Boise State and Cal State Fullerton. UCLA will be celebrating the 80's in that meet. Fans who come to the meet dressed in 80's fashion will receive half price admission to the meet. The 1984 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championship team from UCLA will be honored in post-meet festivities as they celebrate the 25th anniversary of UCLA's first-ever gymnastics team title.

UCLA-Georgia Meet On Live TV -- UCLA's Mar. 8 home meet against four-time defending NCAA champion Georgia will be broadcast live on FSN Prime Ticket.

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