(Walnut, CA) After over 650 days since the Mt. SAC Women's Water Polo team played a game, the 2021 season is finally here.
The Mounties will open up at Orange Coast College for two games Saturday, September 11 at the OCC Mini Tournament.
"We are excited to play fall sports again," Mt. SAC Women's Water Polo coach Chris Jackson. "I have a good group. They work hard and are eager to learn and develop. We have some great pieces; 2M, attackers, and goalies. I am excited."
After the OCC tourney, Mt. SAC jumps right into South Coast Conference action with a game at East L.A. College Wednesday, Sept. 15.
They will then hit the road and compete in the West Valley Invitational (Sept. 17, 18) at West Valley College up north in Saratoga.
The Mounties will then continue with SCC play for their first home game of the season against Rio Hondo (Sept. 22), followed by the 24th Annual Mt. SAC Tournament.
The Mounties will finish up the season with the Ventura Tournament and the remainder of conference action.
Eighteen players make up the roster, including "Super sophomores" Julia Bensing-Ruiz, Madeline Gaitan, and Samantha Martinez. "We will look to them to provide leadership, as they are the only girls with some playing experience (2019 team)," Jackson added. "But, we are also excited with the pieces we have in the water this season."
Bensing-Ruiz is one of the top scorers (55 G, 16 A, 47 Steals) and a vocal leader. Gaitan is a field player, turned goalie, and is now back in the field and looking for a strong contribution, along with Martinez with solid experience.
Jackson's comments on some players to watch:
Xen Allen (SO.) – "She will be one of the girls playing a key role in the water. She will be a 2-Meter Defender for us, but also we are looking to her to be a big part of the offense."
Liz Chong (Fr) – "She loves the game and her love and enthusiasm is contagious. She will be playing 2M on offense."
Alexis Ramirez (Fr) – "She is a crafty attacker from Alta Loma HS. She will be providing a threat from the perimeter."
Ramirez is a bounce-back from Northern Arizona with fantastic speed and game awareness.
Katelynn Howell (SO) - "The lefty balances our offensive threat from the other side of the pool."
Grace Rowland (CFR) – Solid 2M defense.
Ariana Moran (Fr) – Crafty attacker.
Madison Nicholas (Fr) – Strong center.
CFR - Second year with Mt. SAC, but first season due to Covid.
Jackson has added three coaches to his program this season – Lani Ruh, who assists men's water polo and swimming coach Marc Ruh and Jackson with women's swimming; Former Mountie, Jasmine Bustamante, who went on to play at University of La Verne and has also coached at Claremont and Upland high schools and Ivan Buich, who is originally from Croatia, where water polo is the national sport. Buich, who has been playing water polo for 25-plus years, played in high school in Marin County. He continued his playing career in the JC level, where he helped lead his team to a conference championship in 2006. After a couple of years of playing professionally overseas, he returned to the United States and began his coaching career. "The women's water polo team is staying strong and is training tough," assistant coach Lani Ruh said. "The numbers have doubled from 2019 and they have been anxiously awaiting the start of the season."
Lani Ruh went on to say: "The women have stayed positive throughout, being creative in getting water time when necessary, such as swimming in the ocean or becoming skilled in other cardio activities while waiting for the chance to play. They have also hit academics hard with an average GPA of 3.3.
"The wait is finally over. The women feature a very talented group of players from the local area."
Follow Mt. SAC Women's Water Polo on Twitter @MTSAC_W_Aquatic
For additional information, please contact the Mt. SAC Sports Information Office at 909.274.4630.