No. 15 Cal women’s gym improves to 8-0 after ASU win

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Rachael Garner/File

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If No. 15 Cal’s performance against Arizona State on Saturday could be summed up in just one word, it would be this: dominant. The Bears not only kept their perfect record intact but also did so in sweeping fashion when the Sun Devils visited Haas Pavilion this weekend.

A sweep of all four events, including junior and current Pac-12 Specialist of the Week Toni-Ann Williams’ fourth consecutive floor title, highlighted the Bears’ largest margin of victory of the entire season, with the final score coming in at 196.025-193.575. In addition to Williams on floor, four Bears earned event titles: senior Emily Richardson on vault and junior Alicia Gallarzo on beam, with senior Dana Ho and sophomore Chelsea Shu tying on bars.

The commanding victory was the result of the Bears’ most consistent meet of the season so far. All four of Cal’s event scores were within one-quarter point of one another, and for the first time all season, the highest of those event scores came on floor.

“We’ve just been incredibly consistent, and that consistency is really helping boost our confidence,” said head coach Justin Howell.

Cal’s lineup was subject to a significant shakeup for the first time this season due to a slew of injuries.  Freshman Cassidy Keelen, who had competed vault, beam and floor in each of the Bears’ first three meets this season, was sidelined with a knee injury. Freshman Alexandra Dudschus, who had been a presence on both floor and bars to start off the season, was also out of the lineup with a back injury.

With many holes to fill, Howell had to rely on the depth of his lineup. Freshman Mariah Peterson made her college debut, competing vault and floor with scores of 9.700 and 9.675, respectively. It was also Gallarzo’s first time in the lineup all season, and her beam title marked the end of a three-meet beam title streak for senior Desiree Palomares.

“It was nice to be able to look to some other individuals,” Howell said. “They really stepped up to the opportunity and delivered.”

Vault was consistent once again for the Bears despite the new faces joining the lineup. Richardson’s 9.850 not only earned her the vault title but also was her highest score of the season on the event.

On bars, Shu and Ho led the pack, each with a 9.825. The rest of the bars lineup was solid, with no score coming in lower than a 9.750.

The beam lineup demonstrated its maturity and calmness with a meet-leading 9.875 for Gallarzo as well as a 9.825 for Richardson. For the first time all season — because of the many injuries — sophomore Sofie Seilnacht was the only lowerclassman featured on beam for the Bears.

The Bears’ most unprecedented performance of the night came on the floor. Cal displayed a notable degree of confidence in comparison with its opponents, which was complemented by high-scoring, crowd-pleasing routines. Williams’ 9.925 led the team, followed closely by junior Arianna Robinson’s 9.850. Along with Peterson, sophomore Sylvie Seilnacht also made her floor debut and recorded a career-high 9.800.

Cal’s victory Saturday night over Arizona State not only defended a perfect record but also displayed the depth of the Bears’ lineup. Cal improved to 8-0 on the season and did so with both confidence and charisma.

Adriana Ghiozzi covers women’s gymnastics. Contact her at [email protected].