Tempe, Ariz. -
No. 10 UCLA recorded a season-high score of 197.35 to defeat host Arizona State by over three points on Saturday. The Bruins earned a season-best 49.5 on vault and had event winners on all four events, with vault, bars and beam winners scoring 9.95 each. The Sun Devils finished with 194.25.
The Bruins (9-1) had their best overall meet of the season so far despite competing on the road at 11am Los Angeles time while resting a few key competitors. UCLA hit 23 of 24 routines for 9.8 or better, including its first 16 routines. The Bruins also hit all three exhibition routines, highlighted by 9.85 scores on floor by Sophina DeJesus and on beam by Jordan Williams.
"I was really pleased with the fact that we have continued on the same path as we have in the last four weeks and that we keep getting better," said UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field. "They're working very determined in the gym and coming out and reaping the rewards of all their hard work. Even though we were resting some key people in certain events, to be able to do that and hit 23 of 24 - and actually, 26 of 27 routines - and to have our highest score of the season on the road was great. That was the plan - to be able to increase our RQS and, more importantly than that, to compete how we've been training."
UCLA started the meet by scoring 49.35 on bars, its second-highest team total of the season. The Bruins got stuck dismounts from their first three competitors, with Danusia Francis leading off with a 9.875, and Sonya Meraz and DeJesus scoring 9.8 and 9.825, respectively. Hallie Mossett delivered a solid routine that scored 9.8, and Samantha Peszek and Christine Peng-Peng Lee finished strong with scores of 9.9 and 9.95. Lee's 9.95 on bars was her third this season and second in as many meets.
The Bruin vault rotation was its best of the year, a 49.5, thanks to four career-high scores. JaNay Honest led off with a career-high 9.85. LaNiesha-Jopré Irvin stuck her fourth vault in five meets and scored 9.875. Sadiqua Bynum scored 9.85, and Lee earned her career-best, a 9.875. Peszek stuck her vault for a 9.95, and Williams earned her second consecutive 9.95 score to win the event for the third time in her last four meets.
A few stumbles and some tight scoring led to a team total of 49.075 on floor exercise in the third rotation. Hometown favorite Angi Cipra won the event with a score of 9.875, and leadoff performer Meraz scored 9.825 with one of her best routines of the year. Honest made her competitive debut on floor and scored 9.8, a score matched by Francis. Bynum and Napualani Hall each scored 9.775 to round out the scoring.
UCLA had another strong balance beam set, totaling 49.425 even with a tweak to the lineup. With the Bruins' leadoff standout Mikaela Gerber resting, Meraz moved into the leadoff role and flourished, scoring 9.85. A fall by Mossett in the two-spot put some pressure on the Bruins, but they responded well with scores of 9.85 by DeJesus, a meet-winning 9.95 by Francis, 9.85 by Lee and 9.925 by Peszek.
The Bruins will host their final home meet of the season on Saturday, Mar. 7 against Stanford at 4pm in Pauley Pavilion. UCLA seniors Samantha Peszek, Ellette Craddock and Jordan Williams will be honored in postmeet ceremonies, and the team will sign autographs after the meet. Tickets for the home finale are on sale at uclabruins.com/tickets.