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Elizabeth Berkley felt 'sucker punched' by 'Dancing With the Stars' elimination

Craig Sjodin / Today
Elizabeth Berkley and Val Chmerkovskiy.

Even a perfect score isn't enough to guarantee a spot in the "Dancing With the Stars" semifinals. That's what Elizabeth Berkley and partner Val Chmerkovskiy learned Monday night, when their second dance of the night, a 30-point salsa trio with pro Gleb Savchenko, was followed by their elimination.

Moments before the ballroom boot was announced, Chmerkovskiy and Berkley knew something was amiss when they found themselves standing next to funnyman Bill Engvall and his pro partner, Emma Slater, in the spotlight of doom.

"When I heard it was me and Bill up there I knew I was going home," Chmerkovskiy deadpanned to TODAY after the show. "No, I didn’t think that. I don’t think about anything when I’m up there. I’m not anxious or nervous or super thrilled. I’m just listening to find out where my hard work has gotten me and whether or not I’m working again."

"I’m sad," Berkley added. "I’m not going to lie, but what’s that expression (from Dr. Seuss)? 'Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.'"

In addition to feeling sad, the "Saved By the Bell" star also felt shocked. Going into the elimination, Berkley and Chmerkovskiy had 14 more points than Engvall and Slater.

"I felt a little ... sucker punched," she said of the moment host Tom Bergeron revealed the results. "I was excited about next week. It feels like we got cut short. Not that I feel entitled, but I felt excited and grateful."

And after it was all over, she felt especially grateful to her partner.

"This guy has inspired me in so many ways," Berkley raved of Chmerkovskiy. "The love affair I have with dance has returned. ... There are some deep things that Val has helped me reconnect to and I’m forever grateful."