GymDawgs Entertain No. 1 Bruins In Pac-10 Opener Friday

Jan. 14, 2010

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No. 19 Huskies Host No. 1 UCLA
The No. 19 Washington gymnastics squad, fresh off a strong season debut at home against current No. 3 Nebraska, welcomes a second-straight ranked team to Bank of America Arena, this time taking on No. 1-ranked UCLA. The Huskies and Bruins will square off in each team's Pac-10 opener at 7 p.m.

Live Coverage
A free live video feed will be available on GoHuskies.com along with live scoring. In addition, all 2010 home meets will be available for viewing On-Demand to all regional Comcast subscribers. Go to www.GoHuskies.com and visit the gymnastics schedule page for links to stats and video.

Upcoming Promotions
Friday's meet against No. 1 UCLA is Team Calendar Night. All fans coming to Bank of America will receive a 2010 Husky Gymnastics monthly calendar. Additionally, fans will also receive a 2010 GymDawgs schedule magnet.

Last Week
The Huskies came out strong in their season debut against one of the nation's top teams, posting a respectable 193.450 against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers were solid on the night posting a score of 195.700 which moved them from No. 19 to No. 3 in the country. The Huskies were led by Hatsune Akaogi who hit all four of her routines and finished second in the all-around. Samantha Walior also had a big night, putting an emphatic ending on the Huskies performance with a 9.850 on the floor. The Huskies showed they're a young but talented squad hungry to compete with the best in the nation.

Huskies in the Rankings
Washington opened the season in the top-25 for the first time since 2006, coming in at No. 25. Their solid opening weekend moved them up to No. 19.

Challenging Schedule
The Huskies face one of the toughest schedules in the country, competing against five teams currently in the nation's top-10 including three of the top four. UW opens with five straight meets against top-15 teams, including No. 3 Nebraska, No. 1 UCLA, No. 5 Oregon State, No. 11 Utah and No. 12 Stanford. After two weeks off from ranked opponents, UW faces No. 7 Arkansas and No. 2 Oklahoma over the next three weeks.

About the Huskies
UW came into the season ranked 25th, returning eight competitors from last year's squad that finished fourth at the Pac-10 Championships, the Huskies' best finish in six years. UW also advanced to the NCAA West Regionals for the third time in head coach Joanne Bowers' three-year tenure. UW has since moved up to No. 19, led by returning All-Pac-10 performers Hatsune Akaogi, who was a Second Team All-Around selection, and Samantha Walior, who was a First Team pick on Floor Exercise. Five freshmen also should help the Huskies challenge the best in the conference.

Scouting the Bruins
UCLA made a big statement in their opener last weekend, taking over the top spot in the national rankings with a convincing 196.60-195.125 win over previous No. 2 Utah. UCLA is also ranked No. 1 on floor exercise, No. 2 on vault, No. 3 on uneven barsand tied for seventh on balance beam. Against Utah, UCLA went 24-for-24 on their routines, recording five scores of 9.9 or higher and 15 scores of 9.8 or higher. Sophomore Elyse Hopfner-Hibbs won the all-around with a 39.375 and UCLA won all four events, scoring 49+ on vault, bars and floor, and swept the individual titles.

After one week, Hopfner-Hibbs is the top-ranked gymnast in the nation in the all-around (39.375) and floor (9.925) and tied for fourth on beam (9.875). Anna Li ranks first on uneven bars (9.95) and third in the all-around (39.325) while Vanessa Zamarripa is first on vault (9.925) and tied for fourth on beam (9.875).

About the Series
UCLA holds a 49-2 advantage in the regular season series with Washington, having won 13 straight match-ups. The Huskies' last victory coming in a dual meet in Seattle on Feb. 27, 2004.

Strong Start
Head coach Joanne Bowers couldn't have been more pleased with her team's start last Friday, as the Huskies recovered from a slow start and finished strong against No. 3 Nebraska. After so-so performances on vault and bars, the Huskies had nary a fall on the beam for the best team score to that point, then hit all of their floor routines to finish with a 48.850 score on the event, 13th best in the country. Their score of 48.457 on beam, meanwhile, ranks 14th in the country.

Hats Off to Hatsune
Coming off a stellar freshman campaign in which she earned All-Pac-10 honors in the all-around, sophomore Hatsune Akaogi looks ready to lead the Huskies back into the postseason. The only Husky to perform in the all-around last Friday, Akaogi hit all four routines and finished just .050 shy of the all-around title as Nebraska's Maria Scaffidi came out with a slight advantage. A model of consistency, Akaogi had her best score of the night on two events - a 9.775 on both bars and floor. After one week she ranks tied for 21st in the country in all-around as her 38.950 was the 13th-best in Division I.

Sam the Ma'am
Samantha Walior showed veteran leadership on Friday night, as the junior (the Huskies have no seniors) capped a solid opener with the Huskies' best performance of the night, scoring a 9.850 on floor. That mark currently ranked tied for 14th in the nation as her score was the fourth-highest in the country on opening weekend. It also helped the Huskies score a meet-best 48.850 on floor.

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