Sunday, May 31

UCLA gymnasts fall to Stanford after making uncharacteristic mistakes

Senior Anna Li performs a flip during her 9.8-scoring balance beam routine in UCLA's loss to Stanford Sunday afternoon in Pauley Pavilion. Evan Luxenberg

Love was hard to achieve for the Bruins in Sunday’s Valentine’s Day showdown with Stanford.

The UCLA gymnastics team had a hard time earning the love of the judges, getting tough scores in the vault on its opening rotation, and the Bruins slipped into uncharacteristic falls and faults on the beam and floor exercise. In the end, No. 5 UCLA (6-2, 4-2 Pac-10) fell against its Pac-10 foe, No. 8 Stanford (7-2, 4-1), in front of 2,384 in Pauley Pavilion.

“It’s not about Stanford. It’s about ““ we’re better than this. We’re far better than this,” UCLA coach Valorie Kondos Field said. “What is the reason that we haven’t had an out of bounds all year on floor and we had four today? What’s that all about? To have two falls on beam. It’s just uncharacteristic of our team.”

And entering that final rotation on the floor, UCLA was looking to finish strong despite a wobbly start.

“We tried to come back out and light this place up on floor, but we had a lot of out of bounds, which we’ve never had all year long,” senior Anna Li said.

And the out-of-sync Bruins lost a total of 0.5 points on out of bounds in the floor exercise, leading to a 195.975-195.625 Cardinal victory.

Kondos Field commented that the mistakes on the floor were because of “too much adrenaline.”

“The kids who went out of the bounds down on the floor, they went too hard,” she said. “They weren’t pulling back.”

Despite a disappointing end to the meet in the floor exercise, the Bruins saw many firsts Sunday, including an all-around performance by Brittani McCullough. Kondos Field has been hesitant to allow McCullough, who has been plagued with ankle problems throughout her collegiate career, to perform on the balance beam. The redshirt junior said she was excited to complete an all-around competition for the first time since 2008.

“I just don’t think that doing beam is always in her best interest because … I worry about her being on beam because if she lands a little low or she lands on beam a little hard, it’s going to affect her on floor,” Kondos Field said.

McCullough fell off the beam and went on to earn a 9.275. In the following rotation, however, her floor routine appeared unperturbed, scoring a 9.75. In an effort to put less pressure on her ankles, McCullough also debuted her one-and-a-half twisting Yurchenko in winning the vault with a 9.9.

The vault did not prove to be the friendliest scoring apparatus for the Bruins, however, with several UCLA coaches appearing frustrated at the vault scores.

McCullough said the low scores in the vault were inconsequential in UCLA’s mentality.

“It’s about what we do and what we can control,” McCullough said. “We’re always in control of what we do. We can’t control the scoring. The scores matter but while we’re competing they don’t because we can’t control it.”

Li, who neared perfection on the bars while tying her career high of 9.975, agreed that they kept their focus on the next event. Kondos Field affirmed that the scoring did not affect her team’s mentality, but added: “It’s just annoying to have great vaulters go out there and do well and not get rewarded for it.”

The solution to Sunday’s loss and sub-196 score? “I think we need to keep doing what we’re doing,” Kondos Field said. “I don’t think we need to fix anything. We need to be able to release our potential.”

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