LOS ANGLES The University of Utah's gymnastics team hardly looked tired in its second meet in three days, beating previously unbeaten and No. 9-ranked UCLA 197.450-195.825 in Pauley Pavilion Sunday afternoon.
In their own version of March Madness, the Utes' next three meets are against top-10 teams including road tests at Florida on March 14 and Michigan on March 22. Oregon State is at Utah March 7.
UCLA jumped to an early lead on the first event, but a monster finish on vault shot the Utes ahead for good.
Utah used a different lineup when three-event star freshman Kyndal Robarts could not compete due to a knee injury suffered Friday. Junior Nina Kim returned in one event Sunday after missing Friday's meet against Utah State and Southern Utah due to a mid-foot sprain.
"We'll take that road score," said coach Greg Marsden after his team once again performed all 24 routines without a fall and posted its highest away meet score of the season. "It is another confidence-builder for us. We were smart today. We had some tired legs and the floor felt mushy (to the gymnasts), so we made some changes in our routines ."
Utah scored a season-tying 49.55 on the floor in its third event to turn a small advantage into a near-rout. Daria Bijak set her second career high of the day with 9.90 from the No. 2 position (she also had a 9.90 on vault), and Annie DiLuzio, Kristina Baskett and Ashley Postell finished the set with a 9.925, 9.925 and 9.95. DiLuzio's score tied her career high.
Marsden pointed to the team's finish on the vault in the second event as the turning point. "The routines by three of our last four vaulters really got us going, and we just kept it up on the floor. The vault finish got us back to ourselves relaxed and confident ."
The Utes scored 49.40 on vault, their best road total this season, after getting 49.50 in Friday's home meet.
Postell stayed on her victory tear, staying unbeaten since the 2007 NCAA Championships team preliminaries last April in the all-around (39.75), her third-best career total, and on beam (9.925). Postell also won her sixth floor title (tying for first with UCLA's Tasha Schwikert with 9.95s), and her fifth straight vault title (9.95). Baskett was right on Postell's heels, winning the uneven bars (9.925), and placing second in the all-around (39.650), on vault (9.925) and beam (9.875).
For the weekend, Postell picked up nine of 10 possible event titles and now has 102 in her career to pass Missy Marlowe (98) for second place on Utah's all-time wins chart, with only Theresa Kulikowski's 112 ahead of her.
UCLA took the lead on the first rotation, 49.275-49.200. Utah started and finished strong on bars, with Jamie Deetscreek (9.825) and Gael Mackie (9.80) doing well on the front end, and Baskett (9.925) and Postell (9.90) finishing things off. In the midsection, both Daria Bijak (9.75) and Jessica Duke (9.75) had trouble with their dismounts.
Utah moved ahead after its vault set capped by a career-best 9.90 vault by Bijak, 9.925 by Baskett and a winning 9.95 by Postell. Utah used a revamped vault lineup due to injuries to Nina Kim and Robarts, yet scored a 49.40. After two rotations, Utah held a 98.600-98.525 lead.
Even without Robarts in the floor lineup, the Utes exploded for a season high tying 49.55. Coming off her career-best on vault, Bijak made it two in a row with 9.90 on the floor. Other 9.90 scorers were DiLuzio, with a career-high 9.925, Baskett (9.925) and Postell (9.95).
The beam problems that plagued the Bruins didn't affect the Utes. Deetscreek's leadoff 9.85 set the tone. Kim, who hasn't trained for two weeks, was the only Ute who didn't hit a 9.80, and she was close, 9.775. Baskett (9.875) and Postell (9.925) again had the biggest routines.