The Long Beach State women’s water polo team has had nearly a week to think about its 1-2 start to the season, but its confidence couldn’t be higher.
With the return of senior defender Christina Kotsia, who missed last season while she was playing with the national team in her home country of Greece, the Beach is looking to make a statement.
“We are really determined,” senior attacker Daniela Screnci said. “I believe just because we came so close last year [to winning the Big West] we are really motivated, especially now that Christina is back and she has had extra competition in Greece and playing with the national team and training for the Olympics.”
With a young, fast team and Kotsia back, Screnci thinks LBSU can really succeed this season.
The Beach is currently ranked No.14 after beating No.17 San Jose State Jan. 28 but dropped the final two matches of the weekend to No. 4 California and No.1 Stanford. The tougher matchups to start the season are giving the Beach more confidence, though.
“So far, we’ve played some Pac-12 teams,” senior utility Jackie Stanger said. “So, it’s been difficult but it’s that difficulty that we need to get through because we know that things can only get easier after playing the hardest.”
Not only did the Beach get a boost on defense with Kotsia’s return, but junior utility Virginia Smith and sophomore attacker Tori Morrissey, LBSU’s two top offensive weapons from a year ago, are back as well.
“I think our defense especially is pretty phenomenal,” Screnci said. “For the first game of the season, just starting out with San Jose, we really came out powerful as a defensive line we really shut them down. So, our offense completely took over just because we were just pushing and pushing on them. Eventually they just kind of wore down and we were able to win in double overtime.”
Although a Big West title is on the minds of the team, they also have thoughts of an even bigger goal.
“I really, really want to go to the [NCAA Tournament],” Kotsia said. “It’s very hard, I know that, but we have raised our limits. I feel like all of us are thinking ahead and we are going for the [NCAA tournament] and whatever comes, comes and we are going to do our best.”
LBSU’s road to a title continues this Friday, when it hosts another PAC-12 opponent, No. 3 UCLA at 6:00 pm at the Ken Lindgren Aquatics Center.
This will be the 49ers’ one and only home game in the month of February.