The Bruins are back home after three weeks on the road – but it may not seem much different.
“It’s almost like everywhere we go, it’s our home court,” said associate head coach Chris Waller. “Our athletes get introduced and the crowd is cheering for them like we’re at home.”
After competing in front of record-breaking, sell-out crowds in its last three road meets, No. 3 UCLA gymnastics (5-0, 4-0 Pac-12) will return to Pauley Pavilion to host No. 25 Arizona (1-4, 1-3) on Saturday.
“When we’re at home, we really do feel like we’re putting on a show,” said freshman Margzetta Frazier. “That’s where we get the most magic.”
Junior Madison Kocian notched a 10 on uneven bars at the Bruins’ last home meet against then-No. 19 Arizona State on Jan. 21. Since then, UCLA has recorded three more perfect scores – one by senior Katelyn Ohashi on floor exercise and two by junior Kyla Ross on uneven bars and vault.
Frazier, who has scored a 9.825 or higher on every routine she has competed this season, said she has become more focused and disciplined over the last few weeks.
“Before I came to college, I feel like I mastered the mentality of being consistent,” Frazier said. “Here it’s very different because the skills may be easier than elite (gymnastics), but you have to be perfect. It’s a different kind of mind power.”
Arizona has only one win this season against then-No.12 California on Jan. 26 in which they upset the Golden Bears. Arizona fell to No. 4 Utah and No. 12 Oregon State the last two weeks.
Waller said UCLA has been testing different lineups throughout the season to see which groups of athletes can score the highest in each rotation. The Bruins have competed with different floor, beam and uneven bars lineups in each of their last three meets.
“We have our core, but it’s still evolving,” Waller said. “We’ve got athletes who are hungry and excited about getting in the lineup and the more that this team is both connected (while) also being competitive to fight into that lineup, the more it elevates everybody.”
Junior Grace Glenn – who returned to the balance beam lineup Sunday after suffering an injury in the first meet of the season – said she has been moved down in the Bruins’ beam lineup in hopes of notching a higher score.
“With UCLA, I feel like we never really have a finalized lineup,” Glenn said. “I’m usually the leadoff on beam but this last meet (against Washington) I was second. As leadoff, we haven’t really had anyone get a 10 before, so that’s a goal of mine (going second).”
The Bruins will take on the Wildcats beginning at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“Coming back home is going to be amazing cause it’s just so much darn fun,” Waller said. “I expect a packed house.”