Saturday and Sunday
The undefeated No. 4 Bruins travel to Stanford, where they will play two of the nation's top five teams.
The season may have just begun, but the UCLA women’s water polo team is already fired up and ready to go, hoping that their increased intensity will help guide them back to the top.
The No. 4 Bruins (5-0) head north this weekend to play in the Stanford Invitational, where they will first take on No. 5 Hawai’i before playing defending champion No. 2 USC.
The team has been focusing on its speed of play this past week, with coach Brandon Brooks stressing the need to improve on offense.
“The (6-on-5) percentages haven’t been good so we’re trying to pick that up,” he said. “We know that this weekend is going to be four hard games over two days. It’s important that we’re focused.”
Not only has focus been a key ingredient in the Bruins’ mentality this season, experience and confidence have proven to be vital components as well.
The Bruins return eight seniors, providing leadership above all else.
“We’re a lot more confident in taking our leadership roles, and that’s something we’ve all kind of grown into the past couple years,” senior center Katie Estrada said.
“Having a lot of seniors on the team has brought stability and consistency, much better than last year,” Brooks said.
The Bruins insist that they are looking to take each game one at a time, focusing on the matchup with Hawai’i first and foremost.
But the opportunity to play USC and make their statement early on in the season looms in the distance.
“There’s always a special kind of rivalry with USC,” Estrada said. “Last year, we didn’t come out very strong against them at this tournament, so we’re excited to have another chance at them to see what they have and show them what we can do.”
This weekend’s invitational promises to provide tough competition for the Bruins, who will have a much better idea of where they stand by the end of the tournament.
“It’ll be a good weekend to kind of see where we’re at this early on in the season,” senior center Grace Reynolds said. “All the teams we’re playing are good matchups. Playing higher-ranked teams will be good for us.”
A key motivational factor for the squad thus far has been extending their win streak as long as they can.
“(Being undefeated) gives you a good sense of pride that you have something to protect, and it’s still early on in the season but just the thought of protecting that record gives us a really strong sense of pride,” Estrada said. “It’s something to keep fighting for.”