Women’s water polo opens conference play with home win over San Jose State
Freshman utility Abbi Hill scored four goals on Friday to bring her season total to 28 as No. 3 UCLA women’s water polo won its home and conference opener over No. 13 San Jose State. (Amy Dixon/Daily Bruin senior staff)
Women's water polo
|No. 13 San Jose State||10|
|No. 3 UCLA||18|
By Kyle Boal
Feb. 1, 2020 2:11 p.m.
The Bruins prevailed in their home opener against a conference opponent.
No. 3 UCLA women’s water polo (9-1, 1-0 MPSF) defeated No. 13 San Jose State (3-5, 0-1) 18-10 after the Bruins led just 8-7 after the first half.
Coach Adam Wright said the win was big for the team, and that as the season progresses, the team is only getting better.
“It’s a big win in the sense that we are in the toughest conference in the country,” Wright said. “At this stage of the season, we’ve been all over the map. Going back to Santa Barbara, improving our second week in Michigan, and that was a good win tonight.”
Three Bruins scored three or more goals, led by freshman utility Abbi Hill with four, while sophomore utility Katrina Drake and junior attacker Lexi Liebowitz both had hat tricks.
After playing a back-and-forth first half, in which no team led by more than two goals at one time, the Bruins outscored the Spartans 10-3 in the second half.
Drake said Wright doesn’t enjoy playing back-and-forth games, and that he focused on fixing the defensive side of things at halftime.
“I think we really focus on bringing a presence to the game,” Drake said. “It was pretty clear that we were lacking a presence – allowing goals back-and-forth is not something that we do nor is it something (Wright) likes. So we just reemphasized that we need to bring our presence back, focus on defense, know where our blocks are and help our goalie out.”
After the Spartans shot 7-of-13 in the first half, they finished the game 10-of-27, while the Bruins shot 8-of-15 before going 10-of-18 in the latter half of the match. Liebowitz said it was nice playing in a more familiar environment after spending the first two weekends of the season on the road.
“It was our first home game, which was really exciting,” Liebowitz said. “We were really excited as a team. It’s really fun how everyone on our team scores, it felt really good – watching my teammates score, having me score, it’s all the same, and I’m just glad we came out on top in the end.”
Wright said the win was good, but that the team’s focus has shifted to the games at the UCLA Mini Tournament.
“(On Saturday), we have a great opportunity starting in the morning with Fresno,” Wright said. “That’s all we’re focused on right now, but we’ll also see USC in an exhibition and we’ll see where we’re at with ‘SC, who has done a nice job with our conference, but it was a good win tonight.”
UCLA resumes action Saturday at 11:30 a.m. at the Sunset Canyon Recreation Center against No. 12 Fresno State.