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UCLA women’s water polo prepares to face ASU in first round of MPSF tournament

Freshman utility Sienna Green prepares to shoot on goal. No. 3 seed UCLA women’s water polo will take on No. 6 seed Arizona State in its first game of the MPSF tournament Friday. (Julia Zhou/Daily Bruin)

Women's water polo


Arizona State
Friday, 12:45 p.m.

San Jose
No TV info

By Felicia Keller

April 27, 2023 10:44 p.m.

The Bruins are sizing up their competition as the MPSF tournament begins.

No. 3 seed UCLA women’s water polo (19-5, 4-2 MPSF) is returning to the MPSF tournament Friday with the chance to best last year’s fourth-place finish. UCLA is set to play No. 6 seed Arizona State (9-12, 1-5) on Friday in its first game of the tournament before taking on either No. 7 seed San Jose State (12-18, 0-6) or No. 2 seed Stanford (18-1, 5-1) on Saturday.

Having already played all of the teams they could face this weekend in conference play, graduate student attacker Val Ayala said the Bruins are looking to improve on their earlier performances.

“It’s nice to have the film on them,” Ayala said. “It’s no surprise what we’re going to be seeing with these teams. So (it’s) just preparation, just really nailing down kind of where we went wrong in games prior or just really focusing on the different strategies for each of these teams, because they’re all a little bit different from each other.”

In their game against the Sun Devils on April 8, the Bruins took the victory 17-10 on the back of hat tricks from both freshman attacker Taylor Smith and graduate student center Ava Johnson.

Instead of looking ahead in their schedule to the higher-seeded competition in Stanford, the Bruins are taking practice day by day, said freshman utility Sienna Green.

“We’ve been focusing on different teams on different days,” Green said. “We like to only focus on that team that we’re going to play, and then we’ll move on to the next.”

Green is currently tied for third in scoring for UCLA this season behind two other underclassmen.

Ayala credited Green and her fellow freshmen for the way they’ve adapted to the team.

“I think our freshmen have been huge for us this year, and they’ve been doing a really great job of just absorbing information,” Ayala said. “They’re very open to receiving information, whether that be from the coaches or from the older players.”

This tournament will be Ayala’s and the Bruins’ two other graduate students’ last of their collegiate careers. With UCLA’s last MPSF tournament title coming in 2017, no member of the blue and gold’s roster has finished the tournament victorious.

Ayala said she is trying not to let expectations distract her too much, while also soaking in her final moments.

“This is my last run, so definitely bittersweet, “Ayala said. “I’ve been lucky enough to be here for five years, playing some really fun games and having some fun MPSF tournament moments. … I am a little sad that everything’s coming to an end, but we kind of have other priorities to focus on, so I’m just trying not to think about it too much.”

Ayala and six other players received All-MPSF honors this week. Green and fellow freshmen Smith and utility Anna Pearson were appointed to the MPSF All-Newcomer team, tying the Cardinal for most players to secure the nods.

Coach Adam Wright said his student-athletes were deserving of the end-of-season awards.

“It’s awesome for all of our players who received some recognition today,” Wright said. “I also believe some of our players, maybe, should have been in a different position. But I think what we all know is we would give up all those to put ourselves in the position to be the best team in the country.”

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Felicia Keller
Keller is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the men’s soccer, swim and dive, women’s water polo, and softball beats. She was previously a contributor on the swim and dive and women’s water polo beats and a contributor in the News and Photo sections. She is also a second-year sociology student.
Keller is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the men’s soccer, swim and dive, women’s water polo, and softball beats. She was previously a contributor on the swim and dive and women’s water polo beats and a contributor in the News and Photo sections. She is also a second-year sociology student.
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