LOS ANGELES – The UC San Diego women’s water polo team has been slated to finish first in the 2014 Western Water Polo Association (WWPA) standings according to the league’s annual preseason coaches’ poll, released Wednesday.
The defending WWPA champion Tritons were a unanimous pick to reclaim the title in 2014 after garnering the maximum 16 points, including four first-place votes.
Sonoma State was picked second and earned 12 points, while Cal State East Bay followed with 11 points in third. The Pioneers also received the final first-place vote. Rounding out the standings, Cal State Monterey Bay (6) was fourth and Cal State San Bernardino (5) was picked fifth.
The Tritons return many key players for the 2014 campaign, highlighted by Sarah Lizotte. The senior from Riverside was named the 2013 NCAA Division II Player of the Year and All-American by the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches (ACWPAC) and the WWPA Player of the Year after scoring 92 goals and dishing out 67 assists, both single-season UCSD records.
UCSD also returns sophomore Courtney Miller in the cage, who was named All-American First Team and All-WWPA First Team after setting the school single-season record for saves at 317.
The WWPA will have new look in 2014 as the exit of Loyola Marymount, Colorado State and Santa Clara drop the league to five teams. The winner of the 2014 WWPA Championship, hosted by UCSD at Canyonview Aquatic Center on Apr. 25-27, will earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Championship on May 9-11 in Los Angeles.
Head coach Brad Kreutzkamp’s squad is off to a 6-2 start in 2014, including wins over then No. 5 Arizona State and then No. 17 UC Santa Barbara at the UCSB Winter Invite on Jan. 25-26.
UCSD travels back East this weekend to face Bucknell in Lewisburg, PA on Friday, Feb. 14 with a start time of 4 p.m. The Tritons then takes on Michigan, Princeton, George Washington and Wagner at the Bison Invitational on Saturday and Sunday.
2014 WWPA Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. UC San Diego – 16 pts. (4)
2. Sonoma State. – 12 pts.
3. Cal State East Bay – 11 pts. (1)
4. Cal State Monterey Bay – 6 pts.
5. Cal State San Bernardino – 5 pts.