Bears Post Highest Team Score of 2009 Despite Falling to Sun Devils

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Coming into Friday's meet against Arizona State, Cal women's gymnastics coach Cari DuBois named two clear goals for her team: "We are hoping to earn our highest team score (and) to execute upgraded vaults better."

The Bears certainly delivered on these objectives, even in a losing effort.

Despite getting edged by the Sun Devils in Tempe, Ariz., 193.725-191.475, Cal posted a season-best score on the vault on the way its highest total team mark of 2009.

"We did really well on the vault, and it's great to know we're improving each time," said freshman Alexandra Leggitt, who scored a career-high 9.600 in the event. "You repeat it many times in practice, but you only get one shot at it during a meet, so it's a great feeling when everybody hits it."

Leading the team in the event were junior Sophia Hocini, with a season-best 9.800, and senior Bridgette Glass, who matched her career-high score of 9.875. Following the meet, DuBois took the time to recognize the work and leadership that veterans like Hocini and Glass contributed to the team's preparation.

"They bring experience, work very diligently and always go above and beyond (in practice)," she said.

But even that preparation couldn't account for a sudden injury to sophomore Stefanie Cheng, who was forced to sit out during the bars routine after experiencing problems in warm-ups.

"She fell and landed on her back, and was having trouble with her grip, so the coaches decided not to have her go (on the bars) this meet," Glass said.

The shorthanded Bears ended up losing the event, and Glass admitted that the bar performance was a weakness for her personally and for the team overall at the meet.

Despite the setback, Leggitt maintained that the team remained upbeat.

"Sometimes it's hard to keep your head up after a fall," she said, "but the support from the team is always there."

Cheng did rebound strongly and, along with Glass, helped Cal edge ASU on the beam to pull within 1.800 points in the team tally heading into the final event.

But on the floor exercise, the Sun Devils proved too much to overcome. Hocini, who took third place in the all-around competition, scored a season-high 9.825 along with Avery Gee, but Arizona State cemented its lead after Tiana Jean and Beate Jones each posted a career-best 9.900.

Yet Arizona State's impressive finish and overall performance did not faze DuBois.

"I didn't pay any attention (to ASU)," she said. "My focus is only on Cal. You only have control over the things you do."

In assessing the Bears' performance and looking ahead to next week, DuBois said: "I felt like the weekend off broke our rhythm a little bit, and our mistakes on things like landings came from being too anxious; but we are definitely coming along and these things will improve with practice and more competition experience."

Cal returns to action at Haas Pavilion on Sunday at 2 p.m., when it hosts Stanford in a Pink Meet to promote breast cancer awareness.


Contact Ed Yevelev at [email protected]

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