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Second season for NU water polo

John HartMiners goalkeeper Lain Hicks goes after a shot to the high corner.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Nevada Union boys and girls head water polo coach Lotty Hellested is a master motivator.

Hellested, whose teams each qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I tournament, told her players she thought one of her squads had a pretty good chance to make a run at the title.

She just didn’t say which one.



“I just wanted to keep them on their toes,” she said with a grin.




LADIES FIRST

The Lady Miners, fixtures on the postseason scene since the mid-1990s, took third in the Sacramento Valley League behind Sacramento’s C.K. McClatchy and league champ St. Francis to qualify for the 16-team field.

NU will play the San Joaquin Athletic Association’s No. 2 team, either Tokay of Lodi or Lincoln of Stockton, in the first round 9 a.m. at Johansen High School in Modesto Saturday.

Lady Miner co-captain Samantha Stowe said while her team lacks a ton of experience, she likes its chances.

“For not having any seniors on the team this year, I still think we’re a very strong team. We could be better at passing under pressure, but we’ve gotten a lot better (in a lot of other areas) since the season started,” she said.

Offensively, Hellested has a variety of weapons to choose from.

Stowe, who shares plays hole set – a position similar to a center in basketball – duties with Kayleigh Knight, will provide the brunt of NU’s front court scoring.

Hellested also expects production from Heather Serr and Sarah Callham.

On defense, NU has a pair of solid goalkeepers in Chloe Wiegman and Sarah Ford. Danielle Loberg and Claire Thomson will pace the Lady Miners’ perimeter defense.

“I feel this is the most athletic team I’ve had here. They can be inconsistent because of their lack of experience, so I’m curious to see how they do,” Hellested said.

SOMETHING TO PROVE

NU’s boys, who finished second in the league behind Jesuit of Carmichael, will face the SJAA No. 3 seed Lodi at Johansen 11 a.m. Friday.

“Compared to the other teams in the section who also don’t have a year-round program, the boys play a really smart game. They play at a much higher level than you’d expect,” Hellested said.

NU’s boys also have a variety of weapons on the offensive end.

Co-captains Matt Haas and Jesse Kirkpatrick, along with Quincy Van Vleck, Galen Dobbins and Jon Dorfman will look to score early and often.

“We have a lot of strong shooters on the team. For us to get far, we have to not get nervous and just play the way we have all season. Just keep playing strong, strong defense and just let the goals come,” Haas said.

Iain Hicks will anchor the Miner defense between the pipes.

“The girls have made it to the top-16, but not past; and the boys haven’t made it that far in recent years, but if they come to play, I think they both have a strong chance. We’ll just have to wait and see,” Hellested said.


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