After frustrating season, girls’ water polo looks to improve next year

November 18, 2021 — by Victoria Hu and Stephanie Sun
Senior Mahi Ravi winds up to shoot during the girls’ water polo senior game against Cupertino on Oct. 19. 
Players attribute their struggles in the season to new coaching styles and losses of key players to graduation.

As the girls’ water polo season ended, the team walked away with few wins but high hopes for future improvement.

Their last set of games, played over the course of the three-day, round robin SCVAL league championships, resulted in two losses and one win: They fell 12-1 to Fremont on Oct. 26 and 8-6 against Monta Vista on Oct. 27, but won 11-8 against Santa Clara on Oct. 29. The team placed 7th in the El Camino division after the league championships and ended the season with a league record of 2-14, with wins against Santa Clara and Cupertino. 

Throughout the season, the team faced challenges due to  the loss of graduated key players like Morgan Bruun-Jensen, Grace Stuart, Grace Green and Amanda Andary. Injuries only compounded the lack of experience; five players were out over the duration of the season, including key senior set Morgan Bettinger.

Adjustments to new coach Alex Hsueh’s coaching style also played a role, with some players expressing frustration over his leadership philosophies.

“Our change in coaching has definitely been the most challenging part of the season,” junior goalie Rosie Kline said. “Alex often struggles to teach us new content, showcase useful techniques and in general create a fair and healthy team environment. A lot of our players, including me, felt discouraged about our season.”

In spite of these challenges, Kline said the team was resilient and worked together to combine their individual experiences with the sport to improve. 

“As a team we’ve collectively combined our knowledge to do our best to win, which is obviously not the ideal way to play sports,” Kline said. “We’ve all truly done our best to make do with the conditions.” 

At the end of the season, the team had also been improving on strength and endurance, with emphasis on more intense swim sets, sophomore flat player Ryder Gangemi said. 

Next year, the team hopes to focus more on coordinating passes and working on offensive plays, as well as learning to adapt to the styles of different opposing teams during games, Gangemi said. 

“I’m hoping that our team will be able to finish in at least the top five of the league,” Kline said. “Regardless of the circumstances we face, I hope our team can remain positive and work hard to win more games next season.”

Editor’s Note: Jonathan Li and Mitchell Chen also contributed to this story.

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