No. 2 UCLA Closes Out Non-Conference Slate with No. 6 UC Irvine
LOS ANGELES – No. 2 UCLA (20-1, 3-0 MPSF) end its non-conference slate this week when it hosts No. 6 UC Irvine (13-4, 2-0 Big West). The Bruins will square off with the Anteaters on Friday, Mar. 11 at 1:00 p.m. PT at Dirks Pool at Spieker Aquatics Center. UCLA will provide live stats on The FOSH. No stream will be provided. Admission is free.
This is the 31st meeting between UCLA and UC Irvine with the Bruins leading the series 30-0. The Bruins won the only meeting last year at UCI, 13-9, on Feb. 26. Abbi Hill led all scorers with five goals on eight shots and finished with six points with one assist. Jahmea Bent got the start in the cage and had 13 saves.
MUSSELMAN TOPS THE CAREER CHARTS
Redshirt senior Maddie Musselman has 237 career goals which ranks tied for the all-time career scoring list at UCLA with Kelly Rulon (2003, 2005-07). Musselman tied the record with a hat trick last weekend in the win at Pacific (Mar. 6, 2022). That total also ranks tied for 16th all-time in MPSF history. She also ranks 4th in career steals with 150, needing 18 to pass Katie Rulon for third place (167). The all-time leader at UCLA is Rachel Fattal with 188.
THE RETURN OF MUSSELMAN
After a two-year hiatus to train for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games with Team USA, senior attacker Maddie Musselman has returned to complete her senior season at UCLA. Musselman tied for the team scoring lead with 18 goals in the Tokyo Olympics, leading Team USA to its third-straight gold medal (her second) and was named the MVP of the Olympic Games. It is the fourth time in her career that she has been named the MVP of a major international tournament as she was named the MVP of the FINA World League Super Final in 2019 and again in 2021. She was also named the MVP of the FINA World Championships in 2017. Additionally, the three-time First-Team All-American was also named the 2021 Women's Total Player of the Year by (Total Waterpolo).
Four of UCLA's seven 2021 ACWPC All-Americans return for the 2022 season. Senior center Ava Johnson headlined the list of Bruin selections as the lone First-Team honoree. Junior attacker Hannah Palmer was the only Bruin to earn Second-Team honors. The Bruins landed two on the Third-Team list which included senior attacker Val Ayala and goalkeeper Jahmea Bent (graduated). Three more Bruins earned Honorable Mention All-America accolades that included defender Brooke Maxson (graduated), junior utility Abbi Hill and attacker Lexi Liebowitz (graduated). Maddie Musselman is also a three-time All-American (2017-19).
Johnson was fifth on the team in scoring with 34 points (28 goals, six assists). Her 28 goals ranked tied for second on the team. She led the squad in drawn exclusions (32) and field blocks (nine) and tied for fourth on the team in steals (nine). Palmer led the team in scoring with 62 points (9th in the MPSF) with a team-high 36 goals and 26 assists (tied for fifth in the MPSF). She was second on the team defensively with 14 steals. Ayala was fourth on the team in scoring with 36 points (20 goals, 16 assists). Her 20 goals ranked fifth on the squad while the 16 assists ranked third. She led the Bruins defensively with a team-high 17 steals while ranking second with eight field blocks. Hill finished second on the team in scoring with 47 points (28 goals, 19 assists). The 28 goals and 19 assists each ranked second on the team. She also had nine steals (tied for fourth on the squad), six drawn exclusions, and three field blocks.
RETURNING ALL-MPSF SELECTIONS
Four of the Bruins' five players that earned All-MPSF plaudits in 2021 return for the 2022 campaign. The group includes First-Team selections senior center Ava Johnson and junior attacker Hannah Palmer. Johnson was also named to the 2021 MPSF/KAP7 All-Tournament Team. Senior Brooke Maxson was named honorable mention for the second straight year and graduated out of the program at year's end. Two Bruin sophomores landed on the MPSF All-Newcomer Team last year, which included attackers Malia Allen and Anneliese Miller.
The Bruins have three goalkeepers on the 2022 roster that all saw action last season, led by redshirt junior Georgia Phillips who played in 10 games (starting eight) while going 5-3 on the year. Junior Quinn Winter and sophomore Sydney Chiang each only played a quarter in the Bruins' season-opening win at No. 11 Fresno State (Feb. 14) a year ago.
For the third-consecutive season, the UCLA women's water polo roster is completely made up of student-athletes that are from the state of California (28).
WRIGHT ON DECK
Adam Wright is in his fifth season as UCLA's head women's water polo coach in 2022 with an overall record of 101-23 (.815) and an MPSF mark of 20-8 (.714). He recently won his 100th game at the helm of the women's program with a 9-8 victory at No. 4 California (Mar. 5, 2022). 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: 15-5 | Final Ranking: 2nd | NCAA Finish: 2nd | MPSF Tournament Finish: 3rd
UCLA finished the season at 15-5 overall and 9-3 in the MPSF in the COVID-limited season of 2021 in head coach Adam Wright's fourth season at the helm of the program. The Bruins went defeated every team it played at least once, including handing NCAA Champion USC its only loss of the season at home, 13-6, on the UCLA's "Senior Day" (April 25). The Bruins also split a pair of games at No. 2 Stanford, dropping the first one 11-12 (Mar. 27) before rallying to win the second meeting, 11-10 (Mar. 28). Stanford beat UCLA in the semifinals of the MPSF Championiship, 13-8 (May 1), but the Bruins beat the Cardinal in the semifinals of the NCAA Champioinship, 9-7 (May 15) before falling to the Trojans in the title match. UCLA would capture third place at the MPSF Championship with a 12-7 win at No. 5 Arizona State (May 2).
UCLA IN THE CWPA POLL
The Bruins held steady at No. 2 in the 2022 CWPA National Women's Varsity Top 25 Poll (96 points), released on Mar. 9.
|2022 WOMEN'S VARSITY TOP 25 (Week 7 - Mar. 9)|
|Rank||Team||Week 6 Poll||Points|
|9||Long Beach State||9||67|
|10||Arizona State||10 (T)||62|
|11||UC Davis||10 (T)||61|
|12||San José State||12||56|
|13||UC San Diego||13||50|
|16||UC Santa Barbara||16||38|
|20||San Diego State||21||24|
|RV||California Baptist University||RV||1|
|RV||Cal State East Bay||RV||1|