Bruins Lose Balance Against Georgia, 197.725-196.125
March 8, 2009
Los Angeles, Calif. - The balance beam was UCLA's nemesis, as the sixth-ranked Bruins had to count two falls on the event in a dual meet loss to No. 1 Georgia. The Gym Dogs scored 197.725, while UCLA totaled 196.125. Senior Ariana Berlin, who was questionable after injuring her knee in practice earlier in the week, competed in the all-around and scored a career-high 39.5 to place second to Georgia's Courtney Kupets (39.65).
The Bruins kept pace with Georgia in the first rotation, totaling 49.375 on vault to Georgia's 49.425 on bars. Sophomore Mizuki Sato started things off on vault for the Bruins with a 9.8, and Berlin followed that with a big vault that earned 9.875. After Brittani McCullough scored 9.775, Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs nailed her vault for a 9.9. Aisha Gerber hit a big vault with good distance and form, taking just a small hop back for a 9.875, setting up Vanessa Zamarripa, the nation's No. 1 vaulter, for a big mark. Zamarripa complied by sticking her vault but stepped quickly into her salute and was docked slightly for it, earning a 9.925. Georgia's last three bars competitors scored 9.9 or better, led by Kupets' meet-winning 9.95.
Down by just .05 after one rotation, the Bruins moved to bars and scored 49.2. Berlin offered a 9.875 leadoff score, but the Bruins played it safe with dismounts on the next two competitors, and got a 9.85 from McCullough and 9.8 from Gerber. Zamarripa went all-out on her routine and stuck her double layout dismount for a 9.9. Hopfner-Hibbs also went to full difficulty but took a step back on her double front dismount and scored 9.775. Anna Li, who sprained her ankle earlier this week in practice, gutted it out to try to improve the Bruins' team score but just missed on her Tkatchev and did not finish her routine, leaving the Bruins with a 49.2. Georgia increased its lead with a 49.425 on vault, led by Hilary Mauro's 9.95.
Balance beam was troublesome for the Bruins in the third rotation. Berlin set things up well for her teammates with a career-high 9.9, but only Niki Tom (9.8) and Hopfner-Hibbs (9.85) stayed on the apparatus. Georgia, meanwhile, was flourishing on floor, scoring 49.475, led by Kupets' 9.975.
UCLA rebounded in the final rotation on floor exercise, however, scoring a season-best 49.375. Sato and Berlin led off with 9.85s. Zamarripa entertained with a career-high 9.925 routine. Kaelie Baer, who was a late sub on the event, nevertheless scored 9.825. Hopfner-Hibbs scored her career-best with a 9.925, and McCulough recorded a 9.825 despite taking a step out of bounds on her double pike opening pass. Georgia scored 49.4 on balance beam in its last rotation, led by a perfect 10 from 2004 Olympian Courtney McCool.
The Bruins are back in action next Sunday in Pauley Pavilion against Nebraska. The meet is the Bruins' final home meet of the year, and seniors Berlin, Melissa Chan, Kristina Comforte and Alyssa Kitasoe will be honored in pre-meet ceremonies.