A highlight debut performance by Elizabeth Price and strong showing in the all-around by Taylor Rice was not enough to help No. 10 Stanford overcome a challenging season opener in women's gymnastics on Sunday at the NorCal Classic in Davis.
The Cardinal's final competitor on the day, Price delivered a nearly flawless vault to score a meet-best 9.950 and claim the individual title. It was quite a debut for the highly-touted freshman who won the World Cup Series all-around title a year ago.
Ivana Hong had a nice showing in her first meet since missing the 2014 season due to injury, scoring 9.825 on bars and beam.
Stanford entered the day limited in available gymnasts. Olympian Kristina Vaculik, a top all-around competitor, was out with an illness and other gymnasts were returning from minor injuries. The Cardinal had five gymnasts compete in three of the four events.
Stanford finished with a 193.450 to tie for fourth place. California finished first with 195.175, followed by UC Davis (194.350), San Jose State (194.050) and Sacramento State (193.450). The loss to the Golden Bears is the Cardinal's first in the past 34 meetings.
"We have some key players that didn't work tonight", said Smyth. "As we get healthy I think we'll get a better sense of where we are as a team. It's early."
Stanford opened the meet on bars and was led by Rice and Hong with scores of 9.825. Rebecca Wing delivered a 9.725 in the leadoff position but the Cardinal counted two falls and scored 47.825.
The Cardinal seemed to find a rhythm during the second rotation on beam with Rice, Hong and Rachel Daum registering scores of 9.825. Pauline Hanset produced a 9.775 and Stanford earned a 48.875 to close the gap on the other teams.
Haley Spector earned a career-best 9.850 on floor, which tied Rice for the team high. Daum and Hanset recorded scores of 9.775 but the Cardinal had to count a fall in one of its five positions limiting its score to 47.700 in the event.
Stanford refocused and finished strong on vault with a 49.050, led by Price's 9.950. Rice contributed a 9.850, while Danielle McNair produced a 9.825. However, it was not quite enough to close the gap on the teams ahead.
The Cardinal will look to build on its strengths in its next meet Friday at 7 p.m. (PT) at San Jose State.
"I know this was disappointing for the team," said Smyth. "We'll get back out there on Friday night and look to keep building."