Despite one of its better performances of the season, the No. 11 Stanford women’s gymnastics team lost its home opener in a close one against conference-rival No. 4 UCLA. Sophomore Ivana Hong was the story of the day for the Cardinal, as she posted a career-best score of 39.550 in the all-around competition.
Both teams set the bar high early on, as UCLA outscored Stanford 49.300-49.200 on vault for the first event of the evening. UCLA senior Vanessa Zamarripa in the event with a 10.000, the only perfect score for any competitor in the meet.
Hong and fellow sophomore Pauline Hanset led the Cardinal with scores of 9.900 and 9.875 (a career best for Hanset), good for second and a tie for third in the event. Other notables were senior captains Ashley Morgan and Nicole Dayton, who each scored a 9.825.
“I was so impressed and proud of Ivana,” head coach Kristen Smyth told GoStanford.com. “She’s such a competitor and such a beautiful athlete on all four events, so I was just thrilled for her to get that all-around meet under her belt.”
The Bruins took advantage of a few mistakes on the Cardinal side on uneven bars to take a 98.375-97.825 lead going into the third round. Hong again led the way for the Cardinal, scoring a 9.875 to win the event while sophomore Kristina Vaculik posted a strong 9.850. However, two falls for the Cardinal’s final two competitors dropped the team score to just 48.625, Stanford’s worst team score of the evening.
But Stanford would recover with a very strong 49.325 on beam, a season-best score for the team in the event. Five of six competitors scored at least 9.825 for the Cardinal, led by Hong and Ashley Morgan’s pair of 9.900s — a career high on beam for Morgan — putting them in a three-way tie for second-place in the event.
Freshman Danusia Francis scored a 9.925 for UCLA to win the individual title. For Stanford, junior Amanda Spinner added a 9.875 while Vaculik and junior Shona Morgan each scored a 9.825.
Despite such a strong performance from the Cardinal, UCLA nearly matched it with a 49.225, giving Stanford just a 10th of a point advantage in the event. Heading into the final round down 147.600-147.150, the Cardinal would need UCLA mistakes to have a chance to earn a victory.
The Bruins did just the opposite, posting a 49.325 of their own on-floor exercise for their best team score of the entire meet. Zamarripa won her second individual title of the evening with a 9.925, and none of her teammates scored below a 9.825, which was plenty good enough to seal the victory for UCLA.
Stanford’s Hong, Morgan and Hanset all tied UCLA’s Alyssa Pritchett for second-place in the event with a score of 9.875. Stanford scored a 49.050 in the event to round out the final score of 196.200-196.925 in favor of the Bruins.
Zamarripa earned the all-around victory for the Bruins with a very impressive score of 39.675. Hong and Ashley Morgan also put together very strong scores of 39.550 and 39.425, respectively, to grab second and third place for Stanford. Hong’s score was a career high, while Morgan’s was the best of her season so far. Morgan is the reigning Pac-12 Gymnast of the Week.
Stanford drops to 7-2 on the year with the loss, while UCLA continues to prove itself as one of the country’s best teams, improving to 4-0 on the year. Stanford has a much-needed break after a stretch of five meets in four weeks, as its next meet is not until Feb. 15, when Arizona State will come to Maples Pavilion for the Cardinal’s second home meet of the season.
Contact Connor Scherer at firstname.lastname@example.org.