This Saturday, unranked Cal will look to knock off No. 4 UCLA at home in arguably its toughest matchup of the year.
The Bears, who have not seen the likes of the Bruins during this regular season, are coming off of a victory over then-No. 19 Arizona in which they recorded the fourth-highest floor total in school history. The win over Arizona also marked the end of a three-meet skid in which Cal lost on the road to No. 21 BYU, then-No. 13 Washington and then-No. 14 ASU.
While the Bears have competed in several matchups against ranked opponents up to this point, they have not yet seen a team of UCLA’s caliber. The Bruins will likely be eager to come out strong after recording a season-high score of 197.950 on Sunday, regardless of falling to No. 1 Oklahoma at home. Their matchup could be described as a “clash of giants,” as the two teams combined to score six perfect 10s.
Cal will enter the meet with a relatively experienced team led by seniors Arianna Robinson and Toni-Ann Williams. On Sunday, Robinson matched her career high on vault, scoring a 9.90 on her way to her first vault title of the season. Williams also contributed to the Bears’ win with her score of 9.95 on floor. They will look to replicate such performances this Saturday — and, frankly, they will need to if they want to upset UCLA.
The Bruins will counter the Bears with some veteran presence of their own in seniors Christine Peng-Peng Lee and Napualani Hall. Both know what it takes to be perfect, with Peng-Peng Lee earning her second consecutive perfect score on the beam this past Sunday and Hall earning a 9.950 in which one judge gave her a perfect mark for her vault performance.
Cal has had a little less than a week to prepare for the Bruins, but the team will certainly be looking start a winning streak of its own.
After the Bears’ win against the Wildcats on Sunday, Cal head coach Justin Howell expressed that he wanted his team to not dwell on mistakes during each meet, but rather to learn from them in order to perform better in the future. This will be crucial if Cal is to shake things up for UCLA and come out of this weekend with another win in the books.
Kellan Grant covers women’s gymnastics. Contact him at [email protected]