Spartans Up To 9th In National Weekly Women's Water Polo Poll

Timi Molnar is one of the San Jose State scoring threats with 45 goals.

March 19, 2014

With wins over nationally-ranked Princeton and Wagner at the Aztec Invitational, the San José State University women's water polo team has its highest ranking of the season at ninth in the March 19 national coaches' poll.

The Spartans moved up one spot for the first time in three weeks in the Collegiate Water Polo Association coaches poll. San José State became the first team this season to defeat previously unbeaten Princeton, 10-6, on March 15 ending the Tigers' 17-match winning streak dating back to last year. The Spartans also stopped Wagner, 17-7, in its third match of the Aztec Invitational.

San José State now has eight wins against opponents ranked in the top-20 at the time of the match and victories over #6-Hawaii and #8-Princeton.

Following the March 18 win over #14-Indiana, the Spartans have 11 days to get ready for #1-ranked and unbeaten University of Southern California. The Trojans (15-0, 3-0 MPSF) have non-conference matches with Indiana, Long Beach State and Hawaii in Honolulu the weekend of March 21 and 22 and host Hartwick on March 27 before heading to San José.

When USC hits the Aquatics Center water to take on San José State, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation contest will match the first and fourth best scoring teams in the MPSF. USC is averaging over 16 goals a match while the Spartans are at 12.73. The Trojans were kept under 10 goals only twice by #6-UC Irvine and #2-UCLA.

San José State (18-9, 0-2 MPSF) will send its high-scoring attack against a Trojans team that also is first in the MPSF in fewest goals allowed at 3.39 per match. In the Spartans' last 12 matches, San José State was limited to less than 10 goals once in a 16-9 loss to #3-Stanford.

The USC game also sets the stage for Spartan freshman Clara Espar Llaquetto tie or set a new school single-season scoring record. Her 85 goals, including 16 in the last three matches, is one shy of the University record of 86 set by All-American Adriana Vogt in 2011. Espar Llaquet already matched the 10th best single-season scoring mark in MPSF history and can take aim on the conference's freshman single-season record of 104 by USC's Sofia Konoukh in 2001.

Coincidentally, Espar Llaquet's older sister, Anni Espar scored the NCAA Championship game-winning goal for USC over Stanford in the third sudden-death period.

Espar Llaquet is not alone in the scoring column. The Spartans have seven players with 20 or more goals with seven matches including three in the MPSF Tournament left in the regular season. Sophomore Rae Lekness has 69, and juniors Timi Molnar with 45 and Victoria Smithwith 37 are three San José State starters who are scoring threats.

Freshman Katelynn Thompsonis seeing more action in goal lately for the Spartans. She was credited with a season-high 11 saves playing the last three quarters of the 11-9 comeback win over Indiana. Thomspon also played 10 of the 16 quarters in the four Aztec Invitational wins.

College Water Polo Association weekly coaches poll

March 19, 2014

Rank, Team Points
1. USC 100
2. UCLA 95
3. Stanford 90
4. California 85
5. Arizona State 80
6. UC Irvine 76
7. Cal State Northridge 70
8. Loyola Marymount 63
9. San Jose State 60
10. Princeton 54
11. Hawaii 51
12. Long Beach State 48
13. UC San Diego 40
14. Indiana 36
15. UC Davis 29
16. UC Santa Barbara 24
17. Michigan 19
      Santa Clara 19
19. Wagner   6
20. San Diego State   5