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Bears Open Pac-12 Play With Decisive Win Over No. 21 Arizona

Feb 6, 2021


TUCSON – California women's gymnastics posted a 196.075 score to earn a dual meet victory over No. 21 Arizona on Saturday afternoon at the McKale Center in Tucson. The Wildcats scored 194.875 as Cal earned a decisive victory in their first road meet of 2021.
Cal jumped out to a commanding lead on the first two rotations, 97.925-96.675, as they racked up the top three scores of the afternoon on both the vault and the uneven bars.
"I thought we had a great meet, we improved all across the lineup," Co-Head Coach Justin Howell said. "We had some good routines, much better than last week. We were focused on their performances and we showed improvement, even if that wasn't always reflected in the scores. We are at a place now where we don't need to train to get in shape, we need to train to not get deductions. The intention of our practices can shift to the details; that our legs are as tight as possible, that our toes are pointed, those kinds of things. I saw a really big shift in our performance, it was powerful and easy."
After earning only three event wins throughout her freshman season, Nevaeh DeSouza has already matched that total in 2021 in just the second meet of 2021. DeSouza opened the meet with back-to-back wins on the uneven bars and the vault which helped her claim the All-Around title. DeSouza finished with a 39.300 to claim her first career all-around win.
"Nevaeh competes the way she trains; she's very steady and consistent," Howell said. "She's very reliable and she makes everyone else on our team feel calm. They know she's going to go out and do her job, and today she did it extremely well."
DeSouza matched her career high on vault as she stuck a Yurchenko 1.5 and was awarded a 9.925 score. She was one of three Bears to put up a meet-high score of 9.825, alongside Andi Li and Maya Bordas.
Li claimed two even titles in her second appearance in blue and gold. The standout freshman also finished in a tie for first on the balance beam as she notched a score of 9.875. Emi Watterson, returned to the lineup with a 9.825.
"Andi tied for the win on beam in her last event," Howell said. "It was her second time up and she earned a victory in that event, which was amazing to see. She made her collegiate debut on vault earlier in the day and had a really big vault, but took three big steps. I thought today was a good experience for Andi. She didn't know she was going to vault, but it was nice to put a freshman in the lineup. She did a fantastic routine on bars, much improved on last week."
A week after winning four event titles, Kyana George totaled a 9.90 and won the floor exercise. It was her 32nd career event victory. George also took second place in the all-around with a score of 39.250, finishing just behind DeSouza. She now has 77 career top-three finishes after also taking second place on the vault with a 9.850 mark.
"Kyana had a few places where she really had to lock in and fight to save some things," Howell said. "She didn't give up and fought for everything to stay on the equipment."
Senior Victoria Salem competed in the exhibition spot on the uneven bars.  It was her first competitive action in four years as she has dealt with injuries throughout her career.  
"Victoria hit a routine on bars, she's been working hard in the gym and it was great to see our team's reaction to her finally getting to compete in a meet," Howell said. "She is a phenomenal bar worker; the depth on bars is getting deeper and deeper."
The Bears were consistently excellent throughout the afternoon as they scored above 49.000 on three of the four events, narrowly missing the mark on vault. All six gymnasts had a 9.750 or above on the floor. The Bears hit on 22-of-24 routines on Saturday.
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