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UCLA women’s water polo to get feet wet with 1st championship-format tournament

Sophomore attacker Emma Lineback lifts the ball out of the water as she scans the pool. (Anya Yakimenko/Daily Bruin staff)

Women's Water Polo

No. 24 Cal State Northridge
Friday, noon.

Canyonview Aquatic Center
No TV info

By Lexi Grimes

Feb. 2, 2023 2:50 p.m.

The Bruins are preparing for their first championship-format tournament of the season.

No. 3 UCLA women’s water polo (6-0, 1-0 MPSF) will be competing in the Triton Invitational hosted by UC San Diego this upcoming weekend, along with 13 other teams. The Bruins have been placed in the B bracket along with No. 12 UC Davis (1-3), No. 18 UCSD (3-5) and No. 24 Cal State Northridge (2-0).

UCLA will face off against CSUN in its first match of the tournament Friday, followed by UCSD or Davis on Saturday.

Coach Adam Wright said since the Bruins do not know who their opponents will be in the tournament beyond the first game, they have to be prepared to face all other teams.

“This is the first tournament where you have brackets and winners go through, and it’s a championship format,” Wright said. “Our focus has to be on what’s in front of us, but we also have to be mature enough to prepare for any possible opponent.”

While it may not know who it will face Saturday, the blue and gold has already matched up against both UCSD and Davis so far this season. In their previous matchup against the Tritons, the Bruins recorded a 16-2 victory, improving to 35-3 all time against UCSD.

In its game against Davis just last Saturday, UCLA once again emerged victorious with a 21-7 win.

Sophomore attacker Emma Lineback said the Bruins picked up some valuable lessons from the matchup against Davis that they are going to bring into the invitational as a whole.

“In our Davis game, I think that was some of the best defense we have played so far this year,” Lineback said. “I think that a really big focus of ours going into Triton is our defense, because if we are having really good defensive possessions, then that only fuels our offense.”

The competition might become tougher for UCLA once it is forced to leave its bracket. No. 2 USC (4-0) will also be competing in this tournament and is the only participating team ranked higher than the Bruins. However, there are four other top-10 teams in the tournament – No. 5 Hawai’i (5-0), No. 7 Long Beach State (3-1), No. 8 Fresno State (2-5) and No. 9 UC Irvine (4-2).

UCLA has won the past two Triton Invitationals, but senior attacker Hannah Palmer said the team is not putting much pressure on themselves to win a third consecutive title.

“Obviously coming out with four wins on the weekend would be really nice,” Palmer said. “But I don’t think that’s necessarily going to affect how we are preparing for this weekend. I mean, this isn’t the end of the season, this isn’t the NCAA tournament, so a title isn’t a necessity.”

The Bruins begin their tournament play against CSUN Friday at noon.

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Lexi Grimes | Sports reporter
Grimes is currently a Sports reporter on the men's soccer beat. She was previously a contributor on the beach volleyball, men's soccer and women's volleyball beats.
Grimes is currently a Sports reporter on the men's soccer beat. She was previously a contributor on the beach volleyball, men's soccer and women's volleyball beats.
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