PREP WATER POLO: Nevada Union teams look to make a splash in playoffs
FirsT ROUND MATCHUPS
Girls water polo
No. 6 Nevada Union at No. 3 Kimball, 3:30 p.m., Thursday
Boys water polo
No. 5 Nevada Union at No. 4 Beyer, 3:30 p.m., Friday
The Sac-Joaquin Section’s water polo playoffs get started this week, and both the boys and girls teams from Nevada Union are ready to dive in and make a splash.
“The boys are stoked,” said NU boys team head coach Lotty Hellested. “Our goal at the beginning of the season was get back to sections.”
Nevada Union’s boys team is back in the playoffs for the second straight season after going 6-4 in Foothill Valley League play and earning the third playoff spot allotted to the league. They are the No. 5 seed in Division 3 and will travel to face No. 4 Beyer (Modesto) in the first round at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
The girls team from NU is back in the playoffs for the first time since 2013 after finishing third in the FVL with a 6-4 mark. The Lady Miners are the No. 6 seed in D3 and will make the trip to Tracy to face No. 3 Kimball in the first round at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.
NU head coach Jenn Krill cited her team’s experience as the biggest reason for their success this season.
“We have some kids who have been in the pool for a while and that maturity has helped a lot,” Krill said, noting her team has eight seniors and seven juniors.
The Lady Miners are led by Evelyn Grandfield, Hazel Kyle, Daniella Schumacher, Abby Moya, Alex Zetterberg, Ruby Dobbs, Alana Hardin, Mary Lee, Amber Fackrell, and goalkeeper Avery Metz-Thompson.
Grandfield is a standout in the pool and the team’s leading scorer. Kyle is a solid all-around player, who is the team’s top defender as well as a crafty scorer. Schumacher is the set and a key offensive player. Moya leads the team in assists. Zetterberg does a little bit of everything on both sides of the pool. Dobbs is a skilled player who adds another scoring threat. Hardin is a scrappy defender. Lee is a hustle player who continues to improve. Fackrell is a key fill in at multiple spots. And, Metz-Thompson is a smart and effective keeper, who excels at passing.
“We’re ready for it,” said Krill. “We’re pretty tough, were experienced. I don’t think anyone is nervous about it. If we can control the defensive side of the pool, I think we will be fine.”
As for the boys team, they are led by the Fredricks brothers Rive and Kaden, as well as Joe Pardini, Cam Breaux and goalkeeper Mans Hassler.
Rive Fredricks is a senior leader and the team’s leading scorer. Kaden Fredricks, a sophomore, offers another weapon on offense. Pardini and Breaux are both strong all-around players with experience. Breaux is team captain as well. Hassler, a senior exchange student from Sweden, has shined as the team’s goalie this season.
“We just have very positive attitudes, whether were winning or losing,” said Hellested. “This squad just enjoys each other. That good team chemistry goes a long way.”
A season ago, NU’s boys team won its playoff opener, topping Ripon, 14-4. The Miners were ousted by Oakdale in the semifinals.
The Miners will be facing a Beyer team which won the Western Athletic Conference this season and is making its second straight playoff appearance.
“If we play we good, we can win. If we don’t play well, we could easily lose,” said Hellested. “I think it will be a competitive game. But, we are the ones that have to drive 3 hours, get out of the car and play good water polo … We have lots of athletic people, so it really comes down to if we are on or off. When the boys are on, our team usually does well.”
The Miners have shown their ability to compete at an elite level during the regular season, having earned wins over FVL champ Ponderosa and D2 playoff qualifier Del Oro.
For a complete look at the Sac-Joaquin Section water polo playoff brackets visit http://cifsjs.org.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4232.
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