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No. 1 seed UCLA women’s water polo enters NCAA championship undefeated

Junior attacker Molly Renner holds the ball above her head as she winds her arm. (Nicolas Greamo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Women's Water Polo


Wagner
May 10, 12 p.m.

Spieker Aquatics Complex
NCAA.com

By Mika McCaffrey

May 9, 2024 12:17 p.m.

The Bruins will look to win the national championship and complete the first NCAA undefeated season since 2016.

No. 1 seed UCLA women’s water polo (23-0, 6-0 MPSF) will head to Berkeley for the NCAA tournament, facing Wagner (30-4, 12-0 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) in the quarter finals and either No. 4 seed Stanford (18-6, 4-2) or USC (18-8, 4-2), should they advance, both of which are MPSF conference opponents.

“We have so many weapons and so many amazing players on our team that anyone on our team can go in and step up and play in a big moment,” said freshman goalkeeper Lauren Steele. “One thing so special about us this year is just our team chemistry and our togetherness.”

UCLA is coming off of a conference championship victory at the MPSF tournament last weekend, where it beat California by a score of 13-10 to clinch the title.

Coach Adam Wright said the team’s performance at that tournament will help them going into the NCAA championship.

“I think the greatest thing from the conference tournament is we got better from our semifinal to our final,” Wright said. “We know we can get better, and that’s the exciting part, but the progression we made at the conference tournament, whether it be individually or as a group, was a big positive heading into this weekend.”

The Bruins will have to play and win three games to reach the national title as opposed to the two they played to win the conference.

At the beginning of the season, UCLA competed in multiple invitational tournaments, but since February, they have only played in individual matches besides the conference tournament.

“It’s definitely super useful for us to be able to play early on in the season and play all these other teams to be able to grow as a group,” said junior attacker Molly Renner.

The Bruins have the chance to clinch their first national title since 2009 and their first perfect season since 2008. Since those back-to-back titles for UCLA, only USC and Stanford have won the national championship.

Steele said the team is treating this weekend as they would any other tournament.

“I think the biggest thing for us is just getting better every single day and every single weekend, so coming into this tournament, it’s no different than any tournament in the past,” Steele said. “We’re focused on ourselves and focused on getting better.”

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