No. 3 UCLA Hosts 2021 NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship
LOS ANGELES – Third-seeded UCLA (13-4, 9-3 MPSF) hosts the 2021 NCAA Women's Water Polo Championship this week. The Bruins open with Hawai'i (11-1) on Friday, in the final game of the day at 6:00 p.m. PDT at Dirks Pool at Spieker Aquatics Center. The 2021 championship will be an eight-team, single-elimination tournament (seven games). The opening-round games were concluded on Wednesday, May 12 with Fresno State defeating Cal Lutheran, 15-7, and Marist defeating Salem, 9-8. The winners have advanced to the championship, which will be held May 14-16 also at Spieker Aquatics Center, in Los Angeles, Calif. In the quarterfinals, Marist (9-0) will play top-seeded Southern California (19-1) in Game 1 on May 14 at 12:00 p.m. PDT. Fresno State (13-5) will play second-seeded Stanford (12-5) in Game 3 on May 14 at 4:00 p.m. PDT. Rounding out the bracket is fourth-seeded Arizona State (13-11) taking on Michigan (21-4) in Game 2 on May 14 at 2:00 p.m. PDT. The semifinals will be on May 15 at 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. PDT with the NCAA Championship game taking place on May 16 at 3:00 p.m. PDT. All games May 14-16 will be streamed live on NCAA.com. You can find rosters, schedules, live stats, live streams, and box scores at the Tournament Central link by clicking here.
SCHEDULE AT A GLANCE
Friday, May 14 (Dirks Pool at Spieker Aquatics Center)
12:00 PM PDT – No. 1 USC vs. Marist LIVE STATS | LIVE STREAM
2:00 PM PDT – No. 4 Arizona State vs. Michigan LIVE STATS | LIVE STREAM
4:00 PM PDT – No. 2 Stanford vs. Fresno State LIVE STATS | LIVE STREAM
6:00 PM PDT – No. 3 UCLA vs. Hawai'i LIVE STATS | LIVE STREAM
This is the 56th meeting between UCLA and Hawai'i with the Bruins leading the all-time series 52-3. The Bruins faced the Rainbow Wahine once last year before COVID-19 shortened the season. UCLA captured third at the Barbara Kalbus Invitational at UC Irvine with a 10-5 win over Hawai'i on Feb. 23. Hawai'i led 3-2 at the end of the first period but didn't score again until the fourth quarter. Alba Bonamusa Boix led UH with two goals. The Bruins were led by Hannah Palmer, Ava Johnson, and Myna Simmons, each with two goals.
NO PUBLIC TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE TOURNAMENT
Due to a health and safety perspective and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Guidelines, there will not be any tickets sold or made available to the public for this year's championship. An allotted number of tickets will be made available to the teams participating in the championship game on Sunday only.
FIVE BRUINS EARN SIX MPSF HONORS
Five different Bruins received six honors from the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, as announced by the conference office. Junior Ava Johnson and sophomore Hannah Palmer were both named first team All-MPSF while Johnson was named to the MPSF/KAP7 All-Tournament Team. Senior Brooke Maxson was named honorable mention for the second straight year. Two Bruin freshmen were on the MPSF All-Newcomer Team, which included Malia Allen and Anneliese Miller.
JOHNSON NAMED MPSF/KAP7 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
UCLA junior Val Ayala (Anaheim, Calif./Foothill HS) was named the MPSF/KAP7 Player of the Week as announced by the league office on Apr. 27. Ayala tied for the team lead in goals as UCLA split with No. 1 USC in a pair of home games to end the regular season (Apr. 24-25). In the Bruins' 13-6 win which broke the Trojans' 23-game win streak, she recorded a game and career-high four goals and added one assist and one steal. It was Ayala's second hat trick of the season and the ninth of her career. It was also UCLA's largest margin of victory over USC in over 20 years (defeated the Trojans by the same score on March 9, 2001). This is the second career MPSF weekly award for Ayala, previously earning the newcomer honor following her first collegiate appearance in 2019.
ALLEN NAMED MPSF/KAP7 NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK AGAIN
UCLA true freshman Malia Allen (Irvine, CA/Foothill HS) was named the MPSF/KAP7 Newcomer of the Week for the second straight week as announced by the league office on Apr. 6. Allen scored six goals in the Bruins' two victories at No. 17 San Jose State (Apr. 3-4). In the 18-6 win on Saturday, Allen scored twice and had two assists for a total of four points. She then scored a team-high-tying and career-high four goals (on six shots) and added an assist for five points in the 17-11 victory in the second game against the Spartans. She also won her only sprint on day two. This is the second career MPSF weekly award for Allen, repeating the honor from last week.
ALLEN NAMED MPSF/KAP7 NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK
UCLA's Malia Allen was named the MPSF/KAP7 Newcomer of the Week as announced by the league office on Mar. 30. Allen scored three goals in the Bruins' 11-10 win at No. 2 Stanford (Mar. 28). The hat trick was a team-high, game-high-tying, and career-best for Allen. She also recorded one steal and drew one exclusion in the win over the Cardinal, which was the first for the Bruins since 2017, snapping a seven-game losing streak in the series. This is the first career MPSF honor for Allen.
JOHNSON NAMED MPSF/KAP7 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
UCLA junior Ava Johnson (Walnut Creek, CA/Las Lomas HS) was named the MPSF/KAP7 Player of the Week as announced by the league office on Mar. 16. Johnson tied for team-high honors with four goals in the Bruins' two MPSF wins over previously unbeaten No. 6 California (Mar. 13-14). She opened with one goal on three shots in the 11-5 win in the first game, also registering three drawn exclusions and one steal. In game two the next day, she scored a game-high-tying three goals on five shots and drew six exclusions, while adding another steal in UCLA's 9-8 win. For the week, Johnson scored a team-high-tying four goals on eight shots and drew nine exclusions, and collected two steals. This is the third career MPSF weekly award for Johnson, previously recognized twice as a newcomer in 2019.
HILL NAMED MPSF/KAP7 PLAYER OF THE WEEK
UCLA sophomore Abbi Hill (Santa Barbara, Calif./Dos Pueblos HS) was named the MPSF/KAP7 Player of the Week as announced by the league office on March 2. Hill scored five goals on eight shots in the No. 3 Bruins' 13-9 win at No. 5 UC Irvine (Feb. 26). She added one assist for six points and was credited with one drawn exclusion. Hill scored one goal in the first, second, and fourth periods and twice in the third. Her goal with 2:20 left in the third quarter was the eventual game-winner. This was the fourth career MPSF weekly award for Hill.
MILLER NAMED MPSF/KAP7 NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK
UCLA's Cassidy Miller (Santa Barbara, Calif./San Marcos HS) was named the MPSF/KAP7 Newcomer of the Week as announced by the league office on Feb. 16. Playing in her first collegiate game, the true freshman attacker led all scorers with an MPSF season-high-tying five goals (on six shots) in the Bruins' 19-10 season-opening win at No. 11 Fresno State (2-1) on Feb. 14. She also led the team in total points (five) and drew two exclusions and had one steal against the Bulldogs. She scored the first two goals of the game for UCLA, the first on a penalty shot and the second on a power play in the first period. She added two more power play goals in the second period. Her fifth goal came at even strength and gave UCLA a 12-5 advantage at the 6:32 mark of the third period. This is the first career MPSF honor for Miller.
MATHEWSON NAMED TO USA WATER POLO HALL OF FAME INDUCTION CLASS
USA Water Polo announced its 37th induction class for the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame (March 16) and UCLA's Courtney Mathewson was among the star-studded group of five members. All those from this year's class are Olympic athletes who've combined to win nine medals competing in a total 15 Olympic Games. Tony Azevedo, a record five-time Olympian and 2008 Olympic silver medalist, is joined in the class by his Beijing medal winning teammate and three-time Olympian Merrill Moses. A member of the first-ever women's Olympic water polo team, Ericka Lorenz – also a two-time medalist at the Games – will be inducted alongside two members of the next generation. Three-time Olympic medalist and two-time gold medalist Kami Craig enters the hall with her golden teammate from London 2012 and Rio 2016, Mathewson, who is also a four-time NCAA champion. The ultimate sharpshooter, Mathewson's perimeter accuracy combined with a fearless determination made her a vital piece of the USA Women's National Team from 2010 to 2016. The only thing as consistent as Mathewson's shot was her winning record. Arriving at UCLA in the mid-2000s out of Anaheim Hills, Mathewson comfortably transitioned from a smaller high school program to the most dominant women's program of the moment. Her focus in Westwood was singular, and Mathewson avoided National Team overtures on her way to winning four-straight NCAA crowns under Head Coach Adam Krikorian. In 2008 Mathewson won the Cutino Award as the college game's top player and embarked on a professional career in Spain. A year later Krikorian took over the controls for Team USA and Mathewson began training with the reigning World Champions in 2010. After helping the squad to its first FINA World Cup crown in 31 years that summer, Mathewson cemented her spot in Team USA lore in 2011. On the brink of elimination in the 2011 Pan American Games' Gold-medal match with Canada, Mathewson willed the team back with three second half goals to force a shootout where the United States prevailed, allowing them to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. A year later, Mathewson helped Team USA reach the top of the podium, claiming the program's first Olympic title. The squad followed with another World Cup crown in 2014 and a FINA World Championship in 2015. Mathewson wrapped her career with a second-straight Olympic crown at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016. Her winning ways included a second Pan Am Games Gold and six FINA World League titles. A Pac-12 All-Century Team selection, Mathewson competed domestically for the New York Athletic Club, earning multiple titles there. She's stayed close to water polo conducting camps, clinics, and swimming lessons in southern California.
All six of UCLA's 2020 ACWPC All-Americans return for the 2021 season. First-team selection sophomore Abbi Hill headlines the group. Two-time All-American and second-teamer junior Val Ayala returns as does four Bruins that earned honorable mention accolades for the first time in their careers. That group includes redshirt sophomore Georgia Phillips, senior Brooke Maxson, and juniors Katrina Drake and Ava Johnson.
RETURNING ALL-MPSF SELECTIONS
All five players that earned All-MPSF plaudits in 2020 as well as the three Bruins on the All-Newcomer team are also back for the 2021 campaign. Sophomore Abbi Hill and junior Val Ayala were both named first team All-MPSF last year while redshirt sophomore Georgia Phillips received second team honors. Junior Katrina Drake and senior Brooke Maxson were both named honorable mention. Three of the seven members on the MPSF All-Newcomer Team were Bruins, which included Hill and Phillips as well as attacker Hannah Palmer.
The Bruins are fortunate to have four goalkeepers on the 2021 roster, led by senior Jahmea Bent. The Bruins also return redshirt sophomore Georgia Phillips and sophomore Quinn Winter. UCLA welcomes in freshman Sydney Chiang (Temple City, Calif./Temple City HS).
For the second-consecutive season, the UCLA women's water polo active roster is completely made up of student-athletes that are from the state of California (27).
WRIGHT ON DECK
Adam Wright is in his fourth season as UCLA's head women's water polo coach in 2021 with an overall record of 79-21 (.790) and an MPSF mark of 17-8 (.680). On July 20, 2017, then-UCLA Director of Athletics, Dan Guerrero, announced that Wright would guide both the UCLA men's and women's water polo teams.
Overall Record: 19-2 | Final Ranking: 2nd (tied) | NCAA Finish: n/a | MPSF Tournament Finish: n/a
UCLA finished the season at 19-2 overall and 2-0 in the MPSF in the COVID-shortened season of 2020 in head coach Adam Wright's third season at the helm of the program. The Bruins went undefeated at the Michigan Invitational (4-0) and won the Triton Invitational with a 7-5 win over No. 1 USC in the championship game (Feb. 9). Freshman Abbi Hill headlined the list of Bruin selections with the lone First-Team accolades. Sophomore Val Ayala earned her second straight All-America recognition as she was named to the Second Team after earning Honorable Mention plaudits last year. Four Bruins earned Honorable Mention All-America accolades for the first time in their careers. That group included redshirt freshman Georgia Phillips, senior Brooke Maxson, and sophomores Katrina Drake and Ava Johnson. Hill and Ayala were both named first team All-MPSF while Phillips received second team honors. Drake and Maxson were both named honorable mention. Three of the seven members on the MPSF All-Newcomer Team were Bruins, which included Hill and Phillips as well as Bruin freshman attacker Hannah Palmer. Additionally, eight student-athletes were named to the MPSF All-Academic team and for the third-straight season, a total of 12 Bruins claimed ACWPC All-Academic honors.
UCLA IN THE CWPA POLL
The Bruins remained in third in this week's 2021 CWPA National Women's Varsity Top 25 Poll (92 points), released on May 12.
|2021 WOMEN'S VARSITY TOP 25 (WEEK 14 - May 12)|
|Rank||Team||Week 14 Poll||Points|
|8||UC Irvine||7 (T)||73|
|9||UC San Diego||9||68|
|12 (T)||San Diego State||13||52|
|12 (T)||Long Beach State||12||52|
|14 (T)||Indiana||14 (T)||48|
|14 (T)||Pacific||14 (T)||48|
|16||San José State||16||40|
|17||California Baptist University||17||35|
|20||Azusa Pacific||19 (T)||23|
|25 (T)||Saint Francis||RV||2|
|25 (T)||Austin College||RV||2|
|25 (T)||Long Island||25||2|