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UCLA women’s water polo pools strength ahead of Barbara Kalbus Invitational

Redshirt junior goalkeeper Georgia Phillips passes the ball to a teammate down the pool. (Anya Yakimenko/Daily Bruin staff)

Women's Water polo

No. 21 San Diego State
Friday, 12:30 p.m.

Anteater Aquatics Complex
No TV info

By Lexi Grimes

Feb. 23, 2023 12:44 p.m.

After a two-week break, the Bruins will face their final championship-format tournament of the regular season.

No. 3 UCLA women’s water polo (10-1, 1-0 MPSF) will take part in the 16-team Barbara Kalbus Invitational in its last tournament before the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championship. The Bruins have been placed in Group C to kick off the competition, along with No. 6 UC Irvine (8-6), No. 15 UC Santa Barbara (11-3) and No. 21 San Diego State (3-5).

UCLA will begin the tournament with a matchup against SDSU on Friday afternoon. The Bruins and Aztecs have already matched up once this season, with UCLA claiming a 21-5 victory in January. After their first game, the Bruins will have to play either the Anteaters or the Gauchos, both of whom the blue and gold has already played and beaten earlier in the season.

Although UCLA has already won against all three teams in its group, sophomore attacker Molly Renner said the team has been hard at work to ensure it is prepared for the tournament.

“Our team has been focusing on our general strength and conditioning these past two weeks,” Renner said. “We’ve really connected as a team just by being able to look to our left and right and seeing how hard every single individual person is working.”

Outside of its tournament group, UCLA will be competing against some of the best women’s water polo teams in the nation. No. 1 Stanford, No. 2 USC, No. 4 California and more will all be in attendance, with the top nine teams in the country all competing against each other this weekend.

Coach Adam Wright said he is looking forward to matching up against difficult competition.

“The great thing about this tournament is that all the top teams will be there,” Wright said. “By Sunday, we will find out a lot about where we are at and where we stand compared to the rest of the teams in the country.”

This tournament is coming at the halfway point of the season for UCLA, with 11 games already completed and nine more coming up after the Kalbus Invitational.

In addition to comparing themselves to the rest of the teams at the tournament, redshirt senior goalkeeper Georgia Phillips said the Bruins are going to use this tournament as a check-in to see how well they are performing as a group.

“Our team always does really well at the Kalbus Cup,” Phillips said. “I think it will be a good check of our fitness, having a lot of games in a row, and it will be a check of our mental stability and keeping consistency throughout the weekend.”

UCLA begins its weekend Friday at 12:30 p.m. against SDSU.

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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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