For the second time in three weeks, No. 21 Cal women’s gymnastics will take on a top-five opponent in No. 4 Utah when the teams meet in Haas Pavilion on Saturday.
Both teams are coming off of big road victories over the weekend, as the Bears defeated then-No. 25 Stanford and the Utes upset then-No. 2 UCLA.
Head coach Justin Howell was very pleased with how the Bears performed against the Cardinal, especially considering how they fared in early-season meets away from Berkeley.
“It was particularly exciting to get a good score on the road,” Howell said. “We’ve been really focusing on our mental game, and this was another step in the process. Our goal for the meet was to remain confident and mentally focused, which I think we did a good job of.”
Cal will certainly need a similar performance this weekend if it is to place another mark in the win column.
Utah boasts a relatively young team led by sophomore MyKayla Skinner, who has taken the all-around meet title a remarkable five times this season, the most recent against UCLA. Last season, when Cal and Utah met in Salt Lake City, Skinner took the all-around title as a freshman, posting a score of 39.500.
The Bears will counter the Utes with a high-flying underclassman of their own in freshman Kyana George, who tied her career-high all-around score of 39.400 against the Cardinal.
George’s consistency — a consistency that culminated in a 9.850 in the vault, bars, beam and floor — in each individual event has been a key component to the Bears’ success this season and will once again be crucial this weekend.
The meet Saturday will also likely mark the return of senior Toni-Ann Williams to the all-around competition after she sat out a few of her normal events in Palo Alto to rest before the final part of the season. Her presence, without a doubt, will be noticed not just with her high scores but also with the leadership she brings to the rest of the Cal team.
While the Bears would likely retain their top-25 ranking even with a loss against the Utes because of their high ranking, a win this weekend would be huge and would start their first win streak of the season.
Kellan Grant covers women’s gymnastics. Contact him at [email protected]