At the end of Friday’s practice, all that could be heard from the UCLA women’s water polo team were the whistles of coaches and the yells of players focused on calling out offensive schemes, perfecting ball movements and slamming home one-timers.
Instead of leisurely coasting through the end of a tough week of practice, the No. 3 Bruins finished their outing at the Spieker Aquatics Center with an intense six-on-six scrimmage, looking far too hungry for a team that cruised to a quick 3-0 last weekend at the Michigan Invitational.
“We’ve been having a really good week, which is not typically the norm right after Michigan,” senior utility KK Clark said.
“With the snow and everything, everyone usually gets pretty sick. Everyone’s been taking care of themselves and we’re working really hard.”
The team is pleased with its success on both sides of the ball against two ranked teams in No. 10 Indiana and No. 12 Michigan but realizes adjustments must be made leading into this weekend’s Stanford Invitational and Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play starting in early March.
“(Going 3-0) means that we know what we have to work on and how we have to play and what we need to do in order to be successful,” coach Brandon Brooks said. “To be honest, we need to improve in all areas.”
Improving solid play
Even after scoring 29 goals in three games in Ann Arbor, the Bruins are taking the time to fine-tune their offensive game.
“Right now we’re just working on how to respond to specific defenses,” Clark said.
“Once we get the hang of that, we’ll be able to run more advanced things, so now we’re just making sure everyone gets the fundamentals and is on the same page.”
As a defensive unit, the team allowed an average of fewer than six goals per game in its first three games, behind strong defensive schemes and outstanding goalie play.
“I think a big part of (our success) is Caitlin Dement, our goalie,” sophomore attacker Kelly Ronimus said. “She’s really solid in the cage for us.”
Following a 10-goal performance at the Michigan Invitational, Clark was named MPSF Player of the Week. This is her first time winning the accolade.
“Personally it’s just encouragement to know that I’m doing the right things, but there’s always things to improve on,” Clark said.
“Those kinds of things are never an individual performance, with the team supporting you and making you look good, so it’s definitely a team thing.”