Women's Water Polo
    USC Suits Up For NCAA Tournament At Stanford

    Jovan Vavic and the Trojans take aim at another NCAA trophy this week!
    May 4, 2015

    USC Water Polo NCAA Release Get Acrobat Reader



    March 20, 2015
    Honolulu, Hawai'i
    No. 3 USC Handles No. 7 Hawai'i 10-1
    The No. 3 USC women's water polo team swamped host Hawai'i with a 10-1 victory tonight in Honolulu. The Women of Troy were near-perfect on the defensive end as they eclipsed the No. 7 Rainbow Wahine in the second half to improve to 17-2 overall on the year.

    The USC women's water polo team has secured its 12th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, having grabbed an at-large berth in the 2015 tourney. Winners of four previous national championships, the Trojans (22-5) set their sights on a fifth title when they head to Palo Alto for action at the 2015 National Collegiate Women's Water Polo Championship, running May 8-10 at Stanford's Avery Aquatic Center. USC's last NCAA crown came in 2013, when the Trojans beat Stanford in triple sudden-death overtime in the title match in Boston. USC opens its 2015 tournament run against Hawai'i (18-8) at 1:45 p.m. PT on Friday (May 8). A win there would push the Women of Troy into a 5:15 p.m. semifinal on Saturday (May 9) to fight for a spot in the final. All placement games will take place on Sunday (May 10). The seventh-place game will be at 12 p.m. followed by a 1:45 p.m. fifth-place game. Third place goes up for grabs at 3:30 p.m., and the NCAA Championship match is set for 5:30 p.m. All matches will be streamed live online through ncaa.com.



    USC opened 2015 ranked No. 3 in both the national and MPSF preseason polls. The Trojans remained ranked nationally at No. 3 throughout the year before a fourth-place finish at the MPSF Tournament moved USC to now rank No. 4 in the latest national poll.

    USC has won four national championships in program history, with the first coming in 1999 before the NCAA sponsored women's water polo. In 2004, the Trojans posted the first-ever undefeated season on the way to capturing the 2004 NCAA title. USC's third title came in 2010 in a championship win over Stanford. In 2013, the Trojans topped the Cardinal in triple sudden-death overtime -- the longest NCAA final in history -- to claim a fourth national championship for USC. USC has also finished third in 2005, 2007 and 2014, placed second in 2006, 2008 and 2009 and 2012, and was fourth in 2011. This year marks USC's 12th consecutive NCAA appearance and 11th overall, as the Trojans hold an 23-9 all-time record in NCAA tournament play. What's more, the Women of Troy have a chance to register the university's 101st NCAA team championship with a run to this 2015 tourney title.

    The Trojans (22-5) earned their place in the tourney as an at-large selection and are coming off a fourth-place finish at the MPSF Tournament. The rest of the 2015 NCAA field includes three other MPSF teams. UCLA (24-2) is an automatic selection as the MPSF Tournament champion, while defending NCAA champ Stanford (22-2) is an at-large selection. MPSF Tournament runner-up California (19-7) rounds out the MPSF teams in the bracket this year as an at-large selection. The next two teams come from the Big West Conference, with UC Irvine (19-8) getting the at-large berth while conference champ Hawai'i (18-8) is in as an automatic qualifier. The remaining spots are filled by conference champions from around the country with automatic berths. Those teams are: Princeton (29-3, Collegiate Water Polo Association), UC San Diego (18-18, Western Water Polo Association), Whittier (21-14, Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) and Wagner (25-8, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference). In last week's play-in games, Princeton beat Wagner to advance to the final eight, while UC San Diego beat Whittier to advance to this weekend's competition.

    USC was the No. 3 seed and host team for the 2014 NCAA Championships, held at Uytengsu Aquatics Center. The defending national champions, the Trojans opened up with a 14-11 win over No. 6 seeded UC Irvine to move into the semifinals. There, USC faced rival UCLA, seeded No. 2 in the bracket, to fight for a place in the final. In a defensive battle, the Bruins managed a 5-3 victory over the Trojans. USC would move into the third-place game against No. 4 seed California, and the Trojans were ready for the Bears. USC pinned up an 11-8 win over Cal to finish third in the tourney. Stanford would go on to win it all with a victory over UCLA in the title match. At the close of action, USC's Monica Vavic was named to the NCAA All-Tournament First Team, with Flora Bolonyai and Kaleigh Gilchrist named to the Second Team. Vavic had scored eight goals during the tournament, with Gilchrist adding four and Bolonyai making 24 saves to add to her program-record of career saves collected in her four years as a Trojan.

    On the way into these final three games of the year, USC is outscoring opponents 441-137, leading all MPSF teams in offense (16.33 gpg) and third in defense (5.07 gapg). Senior Monica Vavic is the top scorer to date with 94 goals -- second most single-season goals in USC history -- as she has climbed to No. 1 all-time in career scoring (285 career goals). Next in line in scoring this year is sophomore Stephania Haralabidis with 60 goals, followed by Ioanna Haralabidis with 48, senior Eike Daube with 39 and junior newcomer Melissa Bergesen with 37. Daube cracked the 100-goal mark with her two-goal effort at UC Irvine on Feb. 28 and now holds 117 career goals to rank No. 19 all-time in scoring at USC. Stephania Haralabidis passed the century mark on March 13 vs. ASU, and now holds 118 career goals to rank at No. 18. On the defensive end, USC has a reliable new anchor in freshman goalie Victória Chamorro, who is averaging 7.3 saves per game and 4.9 goals-against per game in her 26 appearances to date.

    During USC's winning effort at the Lancer Invitational, freshman Brianna Daboub was a perfect 8-for-8 on the offensive end of the pool. Her eight goals across the four games helped USC improve to 10-0 on the year, and also earned her the honor of MPSF Newcomer of the Week on Feb. 17. Daboub had scored just three goals in USC's previous six games, but stepped up and scored two goals in the opener against host Cal Baptist. She'd add another goal that day in a win over Redlands, and then upped her scoring game further the next day. Daboub delivered her first career hat trick in a win over Pomona-Pitzer and then scored twice in a win over Occidental to wrap the event with eight goals on eight attempts. It was Daboub's first career award as a Trojan, making her the second USC newcomer to win the award this season. The freshman has now provided 20 goals to date for the Trojans.

    USC's youth movement showed its strength early on, with sophomore Stephania Haralabidis named MPSF Player of the Week and freshman goalie Victória Chamorro named MPSF Newcomer of the Week on Feb. 10 for their roles in helping the Trojans claim the Triton Invitational championship. Haralabidis was an offensive force for the Women of Troy, while Chamorro backed up the USC defense to great success. The respective MPSF honors were the first of each Trojans' career. Haralabidis scored five goals in the semifinal win over No. 11 CSUN and then replicated that with another five goals tallied in the 10-5 championship victory over No. 6 UC Irvine. Hot out of the gates in both games, Haralabidis had four goals in the books by halftime vs. CSUN and a first-period hat trick against UCI. She'd finish out the tournament with 14 total goals after providing two apiece in wins over Cal State East Bay and Long Beach State on the first day of competition. Chamorro set a career best for herself in hauling in 15 saves in the title match vs. No. 6 UC Irvine. She'd finish out the tournament with 27 total saves in her 13 periods of work, having played the first three frames in each of the first three games at the tourney. In all, Chamorro allowed just 11 goals during the tournament.

    Senior Monica Vavic has blazed a trail up the career ladder at Troy and now has her name etched at the top, having decisively taken over as USC's all-time leading scorer with 285 career goals to date. The record finally fell with Vavic's third goal scored against ASU on March 13. That blast pushed Vavic past Olympian Aniko Pelle, who had set the previous best of 255 when she finished her USC career back in 2002. Vavic also is making her mark in the MPSF history books. She ranks at No. 2 all-time in the conference, needing just two goals to beat out the current top conference scorer, Pacific's Molly Smith, who finished with 286 in 2000. Earlier this year, Vavic tacked up another new record for herself, having scored a USC and MPSF record of nine goals in a single game with her effort on Feb. 14 vs. Pomona-Pitzer. That beat another USC best held by Aniko Pelle, who had an eight-goal game as a Trojan in 2001. This year, Vavic has scored at least one goal in every game the Trojans have played. Now with the career and single-game records set, the next marker for Vavic to hit would be the single-season scoring record, held by Sofia Konoukh with 104 goals scored in 2001. Vavic currently has scored 94 this year.

    USC's three returning All-Americans alone have proven they can provide serious firepower. Senior All-Americans Monica Vavic and Eike Daube provide the experiencd backbone for the Trojans at both ends of the pool. This season, Daube has worked her way into the top-20 all-time scoring list at USC, as has fellow All-American sophomore Stephania Haralabidis. Daube and Haralabidis served up a combined 102 goals last year, behind Vavic's 75. This year, USC's top four scorers are all returners, with seniors Daube and Vavic joined by Stephania and Ioanna Haralabidis to account for 241 of USC's 441 total goals this year. USC's balance is evident with a glance at the nine Trojans who have scored 20 or more goals to date. Three are seniors (Daube, Vavic and Jennifer Stiefel), one is a junior (Jayde Appel), two are sophomores (Ioanna and Stephania Haralabidis), adn three are newcomers (Melissa Bergesen, Brianna Daboub and Brigitta Games).

    USC's backbone for the last four seasons has been in the cage. Olympian and four-time All-American goalie Flora Bolonyai has now graduated, leaving the defensive duties to a new international import. Brazilian national teamer Victória Chamorro takes over as USC's starting goalie, backed up by returners Alegra Hueso and Melanie Slater, who both got in good game action last season. Head coach Jovan Vavic sees Chamorro as a burgeoning talent for the Trojans. The freshman has proven Vavic right in many ways. She's picked up two MPSF Newcomer of the Week awards (Feb. 10 & March 31) with the latest honor coming after a win over LMU, where Chamorro blocked three 5-meter penalty shots.

    2015 OUTLOOK
    Twenty years ago, Jovan Vavic got the ball officially rolling for women's water polo at USC. Fair to say, that ball just continues to pick up speed. Under Vavic's guidance, the Women of Troy have won four national championships since that inaugural 1995 season. And ever since winning their second title in 2004, Vavic's Trojans have reached the NCAA Tournament every single season while capturing two more crowns along the way. This year, the USC women show no signs of losing any of that postseason steam. Besides coach Vavic, there are three Women of Troy who have already had a taste of NCAA Championship glory. Junior Jayde Appel and senior All-Americans Eike Daube and Monica Vavic were all three members of USC's 2013 national championship team. Their veteran savvy provides the groundwork for this 2015 roster, which is also replete with plenty of talented youth to help drive USC back toward a 12th consecutive trip to the NCAA tourney after a third-place finish last season and a 26-4 overall mark. •