ALABAMAToday, 5:30 p.m.
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The original photo caption contained an error and has been changed. See the bottom of the article for additional information.
The Bruins will try to keep a three-meet road trip from becoming a three-meet losing streak when they take on the two-time defending NCAA champions.
Having dropped its last two, No. 6 UCLA (7-2) travels to Tuscaloosa, Ala. today to face No. 4 Alabama (4-2-1), a team that has not lost at home in four years.
Because UCLA has not faced Alabama at home since 2007, the whole team, not just the freshmen, is jumping onto an unfamiliar stage.
“None of these athletes have competed in an environment like they will in Alabama,” said coach Valorie Kondos Field. “They get 14,000 people at their meets – more than men’s basketball.”
Sophomore Sadiqua Bynum said she thinks the best way to deal with this enormous crowd is just to focus on something else.
“We need to make sure that we zero in on each other and use each other for confidence,” she said.
But Kondos Field said she doesn’t think the crowd will be an issue.
“(The crowd is) going to unnerve our athletes but there’s no doubt in my mind that they’re going to love it and rise to the occasion,” she said.
On top of Alabama’s boisterous crowd and multiyear home win-streak, the Bruins do not have a stellar history against the Crimson Tide. The past two seasons, Alabama has nipped the Bruins at the NCAA Championships and UCLA’s last regular-season win against Alabama dates 12 years back to 2001.
But UCLA is coming into the meet fresh off freshman Sophina DeJesus’s second meet back after sustaining a concussion and possibly senior Lichelle Wong’s second appearance as an all-around competitor this season.
Senior Vanessa Zamarripa, who is ranked first nationally in floor and all-around, is just looking forward to competing for more 10,000 spectators – even if they will be in crimson and white instead of blue and gold.
“It will be really fun to see what kind of support, if any, we get from them,” she said. “Sometimes, when there’s a huge crowd at an away meet, they don’t really cheer for you but sometimes, you might get lucky if you do a good routine.”
Correction: Olivia Courtney is the gymnast in the photo.