Five UCLA water polo players and one coach punched their tickets to the 2016 Olympic Games, USA Water Polo announced Thursday morning.
Redshirt junior Rachel Fattal will play alongside alums KK Clark, Sami Hill and Courtney Mathewson in Rio de Janeiro. The top-ranked recruit in the nation, incoming freshman Maddie Musselman, and former player and coach Adam Krikorian will round out the team.
Mathewson, one of the returning Olympians on the roster, led the Bruins to four national championships from 2005 to 2008 under Krikorian. The attacker teamed up with Krikorian, now the national team coach, to win the United States’ first gold medal in water polo, edging Spain 8-5 in the finals of the 2012 Olympics.
Joining Mathewson is Clark, a member of the 2009 national championship team. The Menlo Park, California, native scored seven goals, including four against South Africa, to help Team USA clinch an Olympic berth in the qualification tournament. The defender also tallied four goals over six games en route to the United States’ third-straight and 10th-overall FINA World League Super Final title.
UCLA’s all-time career saves leader Sami Hill led the Bruins to NCAA runner-up finishes in 2014 and 2015. The goalkeeper recorded 18 saves as the US went 8-0 in the Olympic Qualification Tournament against the top teams in the world, including Spain and Italy. Hill will reunite with former teammate Fattal as first-time Olympians.
Fattal redshirted the 2016 season to travel and train with the national team. The Seal Beach, California, native helped the Bruins reach the NCAA finals twice before falling to the Stanford Cardinal in both matches.
In 2015, Fattal tallied 41 goals over four international events and earned MVP honors at the FINA World Championships. A three-time first-team All-American, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Rookie of the Year was first in shooting percentage in 2013 and in goals in 2015. With 154 steals over her career – third in program history – the attacker led the team with 40 as a freshman, 49 as a sophomore and 65 as a junior.
One of the youngest players on the national team, Maddie Musselman, also made the cut for the Olympics. The incoming freshman and younger sister of senior Alex Musselman de-enrolled from high school in 2015 to focus on training with the national team. The attacker scored 13 goals in the qualification tournament this past March to help the U.S. secure a berth in Rio.
The women’s water polo events start Aug. 9 at the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center. Team USA’s first game will be against Spain in a rematch of the 2012 gold medal match.