Cal Earns Convincing Win Over Stanford
STANFORD – The 10th-ranked California women's gymnastics team beat rivals Stanford for the second time this season. The Bears won 196.925-196.250 on Friday Night over the No. 19 ranked Cardinal at Maples Pavilion.
The Bears and Cardinal also met in the season opener as the Bears won 196.325-196.275 at Haas Pavilion in a meet that came down to the last routine. It wasn't quite as close in the second meeting as Cal won by a .675 margin to collect their fourth consecutive victory to open the season.
The Bears opened the meet on the uneven bars and flashed their talent immediately as they recorded the top five scores of the evening. Andi Li, an All-American on the event, stole the show with a stunning 9.95 performance to earn the event win. Nina Schank finished in second place with a 9.90, while freshman Madelyn Williams and Maya Bordas tied for third at 9.85. The Bears led by .500 after the first rotation and they never relinquished that advantage.
"We started on bars and everyone was pretty lights out on bars," Howell said. "Andi went 9.95 with a really gorgeous routine. I think she did one of her best vaults of the season even though the score doesn't reflect that. Her beam was beautiful and so was the floor routine. This is what we see in training from Andi, and it's been fun watching her blossom into a competitor. She's now performing, not just competing. She has excellent performance quality and she can post some big scores."
Nevaeh DeSouza took second on vault with a 9.875 score. While Schank finished third at 9.85 and Li took fourth at 9.80. However, the story of Cal's vault rotation was the return of Abi Solari. Solari competed in her first meet of the season and her third career spot in the vault rotation after missing more than two years due to injury. Solari added a 10.0 start value to the vault lineup and came up with a 9.675 at the meet.
"Milan Clausi was out tonight, I had already planned on having Abi exhibition. She's been vaulting more on a regulation height and surface. With her out, she has a 10.0 start value and we need to get her some experience in competition so we thought it was a good opportunity. She's been out basically her whole career. It's her last year and she doesn't have many moments like this left so you saw the emotion. It was a great vault, we have some work to do to get it where we need. But for her to do that tonight was a really big moment for her.
After missing the last two weeks, Grace Quinn returned in the anchor spot with a beautiful 9.925 routine to earn second place and set a new career high. Li continued her stellar meet with a 9.90 score to take third place for the Bears. Mya Lauzon recorded a 9.85 score to finish in fifth.
"One judge gave Grace a 10, I thought it was well-deserved," Howell said. "She's been rehabbing over the past several weeks. She was looking back to her competition form in practice and with Milan out it was an opportunity to shift some things around in our floor lineup. When Grace is confident she goes out and performs. Last year, she was consistently one of the best leadoff floor routines in the country. It was a lot of fun for her to get back out and compete."
Lauzon finished the meet by winning the beam competition as she recorded her first career 9.90 on the event. Li and Emi Watterson tied for second place as the Bear duo finished with identical 9.875 scores. Williams and DeSouza finished in a tie for fourth at 9.85. For Williams, it was her second career beam performance and she set a new personal best.
Li equaled her season-best performance on the all-around as she recorded a 39.525 for the second consecutive week. The Cal sophomore earned the all-around win, edging Stanford's Kyla Bryant who finished at 39.425. DeSouza took third with a 39.300 score.
"We had a great representation, there were a lot of Cal fans here tonight," Howell said. "Stanford can be a tough place to compete. Our team handled it well, they were dancing and staying loose the entire meet, so it was fun. We felt like we improved from last week, the scores maybe don't reflect that. I thought there was some tight judging on a couple of events, but we saw improvements from the team."
Cal returns to Haas Pavilion to take on No. 3 Utah on Saturday, February 12 at 4 p.m. Tickets are available at calbears.com and gates will open at 2:30 p.m.