Hot, humid air sticks to the skin inside the pool at Moby Arena. Water splashes on to the tile in sync with the blowing of a whistle. Large yellow balls are rocketed across the pool into the cage on either side of the pool, and voices of the women’s water polo team practicing on their handling, communication and shooting echoes throughout the small area as they train to keep their 4-0 conference record intact.
The Rams (6-7, 4-0 WWPA) will be in Rohnert Park, Calif. Saturday for a series of four games this weekend. The Rams will be taking on Western Water Polo Association rivals Cal State East Bay (1-6, 0-4 WWPA) and Cal State Monterey Bay (2-9, 1-3 WWPA). The Rams beat both teams last weekend and are looking for a repeat performance.
“We’ll stick to the same game plan. We have a couple of adjustments we need to make for this weekend against those teams,” said coach Mike Moody. “It’s always tough to come back one week later and play a complete game.”
The Rams will also be opposite Cal Lutheran (0-2), a team Moody says is a worthy opponent. They will also take on Pacific (3-4), another team not to be overlooked. After dumping their first four games the Tigers have righted the ship and won three in a row.
Going into their games this weekend, the Rams feel confident but understand there are adjustments that need to be made, especially since the Rams needed an overtime to take down East Bay.
“They’re enjoying their success so far, but we’re staying focused and taking it one game at a time, making the small adjustments to our Xs and Os,” Moody said.
The team will be led by top scorer Sarah Ostling, with 23 goals on the season, and freshman phoneme Kallie Berry. Berry, from Long Beach, Calif., had hat tricks in two games last week and was given the honor of being named Player of the Week.
“It feels really awesome,” Berry said. “I’m excited, my family’s excited, (and) the team’s excited.”
The Rams are staying focused on one game at a time, but they know what they need to spotlight to keep last week’s momentum going: defense. The team will look to defensive leaders Orsi Nadasdy and Emily Chambers, who have a combined 59 steals for the team, and goalie Krystyna McCright, with 76 saves, to hold the leads they get in the pool.
“Offense wins games; defense wins championships,” Moody said. “Defense is always a main focus.”
The team will return home after their games and get 19 days of rest before they head out to the Loyola Marymount Tournament March 14.
Sports writer Keith Robertson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.