Girls’ water polo shows improvement in second Gunn game

October 24, 2015 — by Nidhi Jain

Sometimes a loss can feel like a win.

At least, that’s how members of the girls’ water polo team felt after they lost to Gunn 7-2 on Oct. 13.

The girls were proud of their performance since they lost 14-1 the first time they played the Titans in September.

The girls attribute their improvement against Gunn, which currently ranks No.1 in the De Anza League, to understanding of one another’s skills as well as confidence in plays.

“We all know each other’s different styles of playing,” junior driver Jessy Liu said. “Everything clicks now. Our defense is on point. Our offense has gotten so much stronger and faster from what it was in the beginning of the year.”

When preparing for the second Gunn game, the girls altered their plays in an effort to counteract those of certain teams.

Said junior driver Kanika Vora:“We knew that they had strong center players who scored most of the goals on us the first time we played, so we created a defense specifically to those teams like Gunn and Mountain View. It’s similar to teaming two players against one of the center players, so that we can shut the top scorer on their team down.”

As the girls continue to improve they hope that they can make progress in the De Anza league. Currently standing at 2-7 in league, the team has been trying new formations to end the season at a point they can build on for next season.

Within the past few weeks, they have placed an emphasis on 6-on-5 plays, where a player from the opposing team is not in the pool as a penalty. During this penalty, the team with all six players in the pool has a huge advantage and can pile up scores.

In addition to practicing 6-on-5s, the team has also taken advantage of “drives” and made a point to become skilled at them. In a “drive,” one player quickly swims to a different position. Almost immediately, the other players fill in the empty spots. The point of the play is to throw off the other team’s defense. If done fast enough, the “drive” can result in a passing sequence that leads to a goal.

As the girls have spent more time practicing this past month, juniors like Liu and Vora have stepped up to be leaders who serve as role models for the rest of the team.

“Usually, players think, ‘Oh the older people will score the goals.’ The juniors on the team have realized that now, we are the older people that others look up to,” Liu said. “We’ve fulfilled those leadership roles and applied them in the pool. We’re the ones calling the shots and putting ourselves out there.”

Despite the juniors’ leadership skills and new confidence, the team still ultimately depends on the seniors, who are “undeniably the best players in the pool,” according to Liu.

Seniors hole-set Alexa Frieberg and captain driver Jace Welton currently lead the team in scoring.

“Our team has worked very hard in practices and in games in order to up our skill level,” Welton said. “The team has come together throughout the season and our skill set is a lot more advanced than it was in the beginning.”