The San Jose State University women's water polo team faces four top-20 ranked teams at the UC Santa Barbara Winter Invite, Saturday and Sunday, January 24 and 25.
The Spartans (3-1), ranked eighth in the current Collegiate Water Polo Association weekly coaches poll, have matches against #5-UC Irvine, #8-Hawaii, #12-Michigan and #17-Long Beach State. All four San Jose State opponents are opening their season this weekend in Santa Barbara.
San Jose State's young team with just two juniors and three seniors was indoctrinated into the college environment at the LouStrong Memorial tournament it hosted last weekend. Head coach Johnny Bega played three goalkeepers and started 11 of his 14 field players in at least one match.
"We have a lot of young players and we need to incorporate them with our experienced players. There were so many different combinations going in and out. It was good to do that for this weekend at Santa Barbara to give them confidence and experience going into tougher matches," said Bega.
Freshman Carla Toha Vilanova was the top scorer among the Spartan newcomers with seven goals and was one of three San Jose State players to score in all four LouStrong Memorial matches. Sierra Painter, Sheila Jensen and Michelle Taikeff were three more freshmen in the scoring column for the Spartans.
Senior Rae Lekness heads into the UC Santa Barbara Winter Invite as the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Player of the Week after scoring 16 goals, becoming the fifth player in school history with 200 career goals and tying for third place on the school's career goal scoring list with 212 scores in first week's action.
"Rae stepped up. Rae's job is to put the ball in the back of the net and she is doing it," the Spartan coach said about the team's top scorer.
San Jose State takes on #5-UC Irvine and #17-Long Beach State on January 23 at 10:10 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., respectively. The Spartans face #7-Hawaii at 8:00 a.m. and #12-Michigan at 11:00 a.m. to conclude the second week of the season.
Collegiate Water Polo Association weekly coaches poll (January 20)
|5. UC Irvine||83|
|6. Arizona State||80|
|8. San Jose State||67|
|9. UC Davis||65|
|13. UC Santa Barbara||49|
|15. Loyola Marymount||45|
|16. San Diego State||43|
|17. Long Beach State||39|
|19. Cal State Northridge||30|
|21. UC San Diego||24|
|24. Cal Baptist||9|