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UCLA women’s water polo defeats Indiana in 1st round of MPSF tournament

Redshirt senior attacker Maddie Musselman scored five goals Friday as No. 3 seed UCLA women’s water polo advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament with a win over No. 6 seed Indiana. (Anya Yakimenko/Daily Bruin)

Women's Water Polo


No. 6 seed Indiana6
No. 3 seed UCLA16

By Cole Lizar

April 23, 2022 11:51 a.m.

The Bruins have yet to lose two games in a row.

 

Following its loss to No. 1 USC last weekend, No. 3 seed UCLA women’s water polo (23-3, 4-2 MPSF) beat No. 6 seed Indiana (14-15, 1-5) by a score of 16-6 at Uytengsu Aquatics Center in the first round of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament on Friday. With the win, the blue and gold still has not lost consecutive games all season.

Entering the weekend, six Bruins earned MPSF honors for their efforts during the regular season. Redshirt senior attacker Maddie Musselman won MPSF Player of the Year and made history by becoming the first UCLA women’s water polo player to win four consecutive First-Team All-MPSF selections.

Freshman attackers Emma Lineback and Molly Renner both earned spots on the MPSF All-Newcomer team, senior center Ava Johnson and redshirt junior goalkeeper Georgia Phillips both earned second-team All-MPSF honors, and junior utility Abbi Hill picked up an honorable mention.

For the first half of the game Friday, the Bruins and the Hoosiers exchanged goals. UCLA ultimately finished the half with a two-score advantage.

Musselman said her teammates were more vocal in the second half of the game, allowing the team to play as a more cohesive unit.

“In the third quarter, everyone was talking, not just certain people,” Musselman said. “People were playing in a better position defensively, which made it easier on Georgia in the goal to make saves.”

The Bruins’ altered defensive strategy was reflected on the scoreboard in the second half, as they limited the Hoosiers to one goal in the final 16 minutes after giving up five scores in the first half.

Senior attacker Val Ayala said the team typically does not struggle on offense but needs to remain vigilant on defense to play to its full potential.

“We’ve been working on getting shot blocks for our goalie and not forcing her to make as many saves,” Ayala said. “Our offense is usually generated pretty well, so defense in that game was a really big focus for us.”

Despite UCLA’s efforts to keep the ball away from the goal, Phillips recorded 14 saves on the afternoon. She earned a 70% save percentage over the course of the match.

The blue and gold will now advance to the semifinals of the MPSF tournament, where it will face No. 2 seed Stanford. The Cardinal have won both matchups between the two teams this season.

“We are all really excited to have the opportunity to play them again,” Musselman said. “The past few games we played against them, we came out with a lot of good energy, but it wasn’t consistent.”

UCLA and Stanford are set for first sprint Saturday at 12:45 p.m.

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Cole Lizar | Sports contributor
Lizar is currently a Sports contributor on the women's water polo beat. He was previously a contributor on the men's water polo beat.
Lizar is currently a Sports contributor on the women's water polo beat. He was previously a contributor on the men's water polo beat.
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