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No. 11 Cal Upends No. 3 Utah

Feb 12, 2022

BERKELEY – The 11th-ranked California women's gymnastics recorded their third-ever victory over No. 3 Utah in a thrilling matchup on Saturday afternoon at Haas Pavilion. The Bears led after each of the first two rotations, but Utah took the lead after the third rotation to set up an exciting ending. Cal recorded the seventh-best floor score in school history at 49.475 to fly past the Utes and claim a 197.525-197.275 victory.
 
"It feels amazing, this is the way a sporting event should be," co-head coach Justin Howell said. "Two great teams going head-to-head with it coming down to the wire. We went back-and-forth and it came down to the last couple routines. I know the fans loved it, the athletes fed off the energy. All of those pieces came together. The most exciting part is that we didn't have our entire roster healthy and ready to compete, it gave some opportunities for people to step in and they showed everyone what they're capable of."
 
The Bears moved to 5-0 on the season and are 4-0 in Pac-12 meets. Cal notched the seventh-best score in school history and handed Utah its first loss of the season. Cal is now the lone undefeated team in the Pac-12. 
 
The Bears opened the meet on vault and recorded the eighth-best vault score in school history at 49.350. Nevaeh DeSouza led the way as she set a career high on the event at 9.950 with a beautiful Yurchenko 1.5 vault. DeSouza finished in second place while Nina Schank took third with a 9.90. Andi Li and Madelyn Williams both recorded 9.85 scores and Maya Bordas led off with a 9.80 to help carry the Bears lineup to a season-best score.
 
"I was really proud of our vault lineup," Howell said. "We've struggled to find a rhythm. We changed the order today, which allowed them to build off each other. They also performed vaults and landed much better than they have been. You add Mya and Milan back and we're in great business. We moved Nina back in the lineup, because her vault is huge, sometimes in that first spot you don't get everything that you may have earned. We moved her back and it helped her. Bordas and Maddie both had clean, powerful vaults. To have the first two solid vaults above 9.80 is great to start.
 
Li continued her torrid start to her sophomore season with a 9.95 on bars to win the event, which featured both of last year's co-national champions in Cal's Maya Bordas and Utah's Maile O'Keefe. O'Keefe tied for third with Cal freshman Madelyn Williams and sophomore Gabby Perea as all three scored a 9.90. It was the first meet of her career for Perea. She joined the team last year, but spent all of last season and the beginning of this year recovering from injury, appearing in a couple of exhibition lineups before making her collegiate debut Saturday.
 
"We've been seeing Gabby nail bar routines in practice over and over again," Howell said. "We talked about it as a staff, and she was ready and ran with her opportunity. She started putting floor routines together this week and with Milan and Mya out, she had an opportunity. She looked ready, looked great in warmups, we put her at the end to ease some pressure, hoping we would hit five routines before her and we did. That should give her a lot of confidence not only today but for the next couple of years."

DeSouza finished with a 9.875 score for the Bears who totaled a 49.450 and held a 98-800-98.675 lead after two rotations.
 
DeSouza led off Cal's beam lineup with a 9.90 score, Li followed with an equally impressive 9.90 score. Those two high scores sandwiched a 9.85 score for the freshman Williams. Bordas recorded a 9.825 and Nina Schank notched a 9.775 while trying out a brand-new series and doing all-around for the first time since Cal's opening meet of the 2021 season. The third rotation swung the way of the Utes as they recorded a 49.525 on floor while the Bears scored 49.200 on beam to give Utah a .150 lead heading to the final rotation.
 
The Bears knew they needed to make up the difference and started off the floor rotation with three straight 9.90 scores. Schank led off, followed by DeSouza and Bordas as the Bears got within .025 points heading to the fourth routine of the rotation. That is where Li shined. The sophomore tied her career high with a 9.95 score and pushed the Bears in the lead as Utah's fourth routine from Abby Paulson scored a 9.575. Grace Quinn and Perea each scored 9.825 in the final two routines to complete the comeback and give the Bears a dramatic victory over Utah.

UP NEXT
Cal will stay home as the Bears take on No. 36 Arizona on Monday, February 21 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at calbears.com and gates will open at 12:30 p.m.
 
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