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Water Polo Notebook: 2021-22 Numbers and Quick Notes on 2022-23

May 2, 2022

Recent finishes:
2021
: 14-12, 6-6 MPSF (Highest Director's Cup finish among Sun Devil Athletics)

2022: 14-11, 2-4 MPSF

For full program history, you can find all things Sun Devil Water Polo here!

Below are some notes and numbers on the 2021-22 Sun Devil season with some 2022-23 items.

Freshman on Fire: Among the incoming freshmen class was lefty attacker Vanda Baksa who has made her mark on the program's record books as just a freshman. In a conference full of Olympians, Baksa was out playing them nearly all season. With a quarter of the season left, Baksa secured the program's freshman single-season goal (73), assist (49), and point record (122). Her 122 points being just one point shy of the program's single-season point record. The six-time MPSF Newcomer of the Week picked up these honors over the final eight weeks of the season during her 17 game scoring streak to close out the year. Her impressive MPSF-leading goals, assists, and points during the regular season was more than enough for the rookie to pick up ASU's first-ever MPSF major annual award winner in Newcomer of the Year, as voted on by the coaches.  

The Other Point Gods in the Desert: No, not Chris Paul. Arizona State is home to the MPSF's top two assist leaders in Vanda Baksa and Lara Kiss. Baksa's conference-leading 49 assists were eight more than Kiss's 41 which were second in the league, beating out UCLA's Maddie Musselman. No other player in the conference hit the 40 assist mark. Kiss's 41 assists have her at 81 throughout her career, which is 7th all-time on the program's career assist leaderboard.
 
Defensive Devils on Top: In the regular season, the Sun Devils had four players lead the MPSF top-8 in field blocks, with Lara Kiss (23) and Vanda Baksa (21) in first and second place, respectively. Arizona State is the only team with four players in this category after Amira Van Buren and Bori Kekesi each notched 11 field goals to tie for eighth on the list. 

The Sun Devils were notably a defense-heavy team with four more players on the MPSF top-10 list for regular season steals. Lara Kiss's 37 steals led the conference and were one more than 2020 Olympian Maddie Musselman. Vanda Baksa's 35 steals were enough for third place above her two teammates, Bori Kekesi and Blaire McDowell who tied for fourth place with 29 steals each. ASU again was the only school with four players in the top-10 of this category as well. 

Notable Wins: The Sun Devils had some record book worthy performances with two strong offensive showings to end up on the top-10 list for single-game goals.

-The 22-5 win over Salem was the 4th most goals scored in a game in program history, and the most goals scored by the Sun Devils since 2011. 

-The 19-10 win over California State East Bay was the seventh most points scored in program history

Finishing Strong: Petra Pardi was named interim head coach before the final three games of the season, and the Sun Devils put on a show. The first contest after the change was No. 2 UCLA on the road, where the Sun Devils almost pulled off the upset in Los Angeles after taking the Bruins to OT after holding them to just one goal in the opening frame. 

The following week the Sun Devils hosted No. 1 USC, and matched their energy until the final whistle. Baksa recorded her 10th straight hat trick in the game in the loss, after the early surge from the Trojans ended up as the difference in the competition. 

The final weekend concluded with a senior-fueled win against the conference foe Indiana. The Sun Devils have not lost to the Hoosiers since 2005. 

2022 MPSF Honors: Three Sun Devils picked up All-MPSF honors, led by Vanda Baksa's Newcomer of the Year honor and All-MPSF Second Team recognition. Baksa was also named to the All-Newcomer Team this season, and is the second Sun Devil in two seasons after Luca Petovary was named to the All-Newcomer team in 2021. Her All-MPSF Second Team Honor is the only all-conference honor for a freshman in the MPSF this season.

Lara Kiss and Amira Van Buren were each named All-MPSF Honorable Mention this season. Van Buren's third all-conference honor of her career comes after one of her best seasons in the Maroon and Gold. She has notched 37 goals this season on 71 shots (.529), which ties her single-season high when she had 37 goals in 2020. Her 52.9 shooting percentage is the second highest on the team behind Baksa's 55.3%. At center this season, Van Buren has had 11 field blocks including the game-ending field block against IU to close out the regular season with a win. She has drawn 26 exclusions which leads the team.

With her first ever all-conference honor, Kiss picked up All-MPSF Honorable Mention after being a key defender for the Sun Devils this season. She led the conference in steals (37) and field blocks (23) while checking in at second in assists (41). She has recorded a steal in 16 of the last 17 games notching an additional nine field blocks in the last four contests.

NCAA Appearances: 2021, 2016, 2014

2021- 3RD PLACE FINISH Sun Devil Water Polo made just their third appearance in the NCAA Championship Tournament after ending the regular season 13-11. Arizona State beat the Michigan Wolverines 9-5 in the first round to advance to the final four, but eventually lost to the Championship squad, USC although ASU held the Trojans to their lowest scoring outing of the Tournament in the 4-10 defeat. 

Among those 13 wins were top-five upsets that will go down as some of the top wins at Mona Plummer. The Sun Devils upset #2 Stanford at home to open up MPSF Conference play with a 10-9 win, and again against #2 UCLA at home with an 8-6 victory just a month later. This was the first time since 2014 that the Sun Devils had more than one upset of a top-five team in a single season. 

The Sun Devils clinched that at-large bid solely because of their strong Mountain Pacific Sport Federation conference play, including upsetting #5 seeded California Golden Bears at home in the MPSF Conference Championship Tournament, and ultimately finished fourth in the conference. 

The Sun Devils had a streak of their own going after ending the season with 14 straight weeks placing in the top five of the Collegiate Water Polo Association Polls. The Sun Devils were fourth in the final ranking of the season, which was the highest final ranking since 2014 for the program.

MPSF Finishes: *Did not place in 2022 after being forced to withdraw from the tournament after COVID issues. 

**HIGHEST FINISH- 4TH PLACE: 3x (2021),(2014),(2013) 
5TH PLACE: 5x 
6TH PLACE: 2x 
7TH PLACE: 1x 
8TH PLACE: 3x 
10TH PLACE: 3xBelow are some notes and numbers on the 2021-22 Sun Devil season with some 2022-23 items.