Men’s water polo uses bye week to improve fitness, train for upcoming round-robin
Sophomore goalkeeper Bernardo Maurizi is tied for first in the conference in goals-against average with 9.15 in eight games played. (Ellie Tsai/Daily Bruin)
By Kyle Boal
Feb. 17, 2021 5:29 p.m.
The Bruins have been making the most of their bye week, according to coach Adam Wright.
No. 2 UCLA men’s water polo (5-3, 4-3 MPSF) is coming off a bye week after competing at the USC Round Robin, where it defeated then-No. 2 USC (3-5, 2-5) and then-No. 1 Stanford (1-2, 1-2), but lost to No. 1 California (5-2, 5-2) in overtime, the second time the blue and gold fell in the extra period to the Golden Bears this season.
While Stanford’s first time playing this season was at the Trojan’s Uytengsu Aquatics Center, the Cardinal are set to host a conference round-robin featuring the Bruins, Golden Bears and Trojans this weekend.
Senior attacker Nicolas Saveljic – named UCLA’s Student-Athlete of the Week after a career-high eight-goal performance against Stanford – said having played all the teams will help the Bruins.
“We’ve met all the teams and played with all of them twice, and Stanford, once with them (at the USC Round Robin),” Saveljic said. “Moving forward, we should all be aware of our opponents, but at the end, it really comes to us – what do we do, how we train and how we behave outside of the pool.”
UCLA has two of the three top conference leaders in points, with Saveljic third and sophomore attacker Tommy Gruwell second. The former had high praise for his coaches.
“I just want to add how hard our entire coaching staff, including (Wright) and (associate head coach Jason Falitz), work,” Saveljic said. “They are definitely the most hardworking coaching staff in UCLA Athletics, and that actually reflected because they probably didn’t even sleep after (losing to California in overtime).”
Sophomore goalkeeper Bernardo Maurizi is currently the conference leader in saves, 20 more than second place with 88 this season.
Wright – who led the Bruins to an NCAA record 57-game winning streak from 2014-2016 – said his team, with 25 underclassmen, has room to grow in terms of fitness.
“With more time, the group’s going to grow closer and get to know each other better, but we’ve got to keep pushing from a physical standpoint,” Wright said. “Then again, I think the biggest thing for us is being more consistent with the UCLA style of play, and when we do those things, we control a game pretty well. It’s about catching ourselves when we get away from that.”
Senior attacker Chasen Travisano – the conference leader in assists – said UCLA used its bye week to train as hard as it could without a game.
“Right now, it’s just kind of maximizing what we can with training and trying our best to really push hard this week – you know, weight rooms, swimming, everything – because we didn’t have any games last weekend,” Travisano said.