By Alexandra Cannady |Staff Writer|
CSUSB water polo strives for greatness as they start their season Jan. 29 at University of Redlands.
The team has set group and personal goals such as working together, gaining speed and utilizing their large roster.
“100 percent every time,” said coach Sarah Reneker who is also an alumni of CSUSB. The team has set continuous goals from last season while changing from 12 to 20 players on the roster. “ Execution is our main goal,” continued Reneker.
Fortunately, they only lost two players last season to graduation. Returning this season are vital players such as Captain Misty Vu and seniors Shelle Kocher, Jasmine Duran and Meghan McCarthy.
The team practices four hours a day, waking up early for a 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. practice session every morning. They continue to work on ball handling skills, familiarizing themselves with their opponents and multitasking, which is considered the hardest part of the sport.
The four-hour practices consist of three hours in water and one hour on dry land. Dry land means heavy weight and cardiovascular training.
Coach Reneker will run a tight set offense and an even stronger press defense in order to run a counter this season.
Running a set defense is important to the team and Kocher has taken it upon herself to do what she can in order for the system to be effective.
“My personal goal is to be the number one set player in my conference,” said Kocher.
Winning will not be the only reward this season for all their hard work. Senior Jasmine Duran has promised that if the team can win more than half of their games, she will allow her teammates to shave her head.
Duran hopes to be hairless before the start of important matches. “ I want to beat Cal State Monterey Bay,” continued Duran.
Ending last season with only two players coming off the bench did not cut it for coach Reneker. She has stacked the roster with an extra eight girls to give athletes more rest time.
Water polo participates in the NCAA Division II section along with other CSUSB sports. UCSD is considered to be a rival for most, but these women have their eyes set on Cal State Eastbay.
“I want to beat Eastbay,” said McCarthy as well as the rest of the team. Last seasons performance against Cal State Eastbay left a bitter taste in their mouths.
They guarantee this season will be different.
Captain Misty Vu could not choose one school to beat; she is determined to defeat them all and to play at the top of her game. “I want to be an All-American,” said Vu.
Vu had to red shirt her freshman year making this her third season. Luckily she will be returning for another season next year.
The CCAA division has a reputation of being tough. Some of the best teams hold ranking in these divisions, but coach Reneker is optimistic in her team’s performance.
The team kicks off the year with a tournament Jan. 29 – leaving them less than two weeks to prepare. In this tournament they will face the University of Redlands and Whittier College.
Their first scheduled game is Feb. 2 versus Pomona Pitzer.