The Bruins will finally return to Pauley Pavilion after three road trips to find the top team in the country waiting for them.
No. 4 UCLA gymnastics (8-0, 1-0 Pac-12) returns home to face two-time defending national champion No. 1 Oklahoma (3-1) on Sunday. This will be the Bruins first home meet since Jan. 6.
After spending three straight weekends on the road, volunteer assistant coach Jordyn Wieber said the Bruins are glad to be competing in Westwood again.
“I think they are really excited to compete back at home,” Wieber said. “The energy in Pauley is unlike any other arena in the country. They’re coming off three really awesome road scores. We’re taking on the No. 1 team at home so it’s a big deal.”
The Bruins have already topped two top-five opponents this season: the No. 3 Utes (5-1, 2-0 Pac-12) and the No. 2 Tigers (5-1, 3-0 SEC). UCLA will be facing three ranked teams in home dual meets this month: Oklahoma, Utah and No. 13 Oregon State (2-1, 1-1 Pac-12).
Senior JaNay Honest believes this year’s team can compete against the Sooners and be just as good.
“Especially this year, there’s a different vibe within our team,” Honest said. “Last year, going up against them it was, ‘They’re OU. They’re the best team in the country.’ I feel this year we believe we are … at that level, because we have definitely dialed into the small little details.”
The Bruins and Sooners faced off in Norman, Oklahoma, last year. The Sooners won the meet 198.025-196.825, and they would go on to beat the Bruins again in the Super Six.
Junior Katelyn Ohashi said she understands that, while the Bruins should have the same focus at every meet, facing the top team will raise the level of intensity.
“I think it does (up the intensity),” Ohashi said. “I don’t think it should, because we should just go out there with the mindset of us doing our best, but it does have a factor. We know what they’re capable of. ”
Together We Rise
UCLA will also be honoring survivors of sexual abuse at the meet by handing out teal pompoms and wristbands that say “Together We Rise” to fans at the meet. The meet will also include a special presentation at the end.
Wieber, who was one of the women to testify against former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, said the message sent by the teal items is one of support and togetherness.
“We wanted the theme of this meet to honor the sexual abuse survivors,” Wieber said. “The theme is ‘Together We Rise.’ It’s honoring myself and the other survivors. It’s having our team and Oklahoma coming together to show their support for the survivors. Just to send a message that they’re there for us and standing together with us.”