Team USA, Hungary and Spain all move into Olympic semifinals with wins today.
Aug. 5, 2012
Olympic women's water polo action entered the knockout stages today (Aug. 5) in London, with five Women of Troy having emerged still within reach of Olympic medals. The August 7 semifinals are set, with Team USA's Trojan grads Tumua Anae, Kami Craig and Lauren Wenger grabbing a win over Italy. Meanwhile, two future Trojan teammates will face off in the other semifinal after current USC goalie Flora Bolonyai and her Hungarian team are lined up against incoming Trojan Anni Espar and Spain.
Bolonyai and Espar have already squared off once during group play, when Spain topped Hungary 13-11.
Today, Bolonyai hauled in six saves for Hungary in its impressive quarterfinal win over Russia. One of those big saves came in stopping a 5-meter penalty shot in the first frame to keep the Russians from taking a 3-0 lead. With that boost, Hungary would soon pull even, later take a lead and hold off Russia the rest of the way for the win and a trip to the Olympic semifinals.
As Bolonyai now has guaranteed herself a chance to play for an Olympic medal, that Hungarian win did end the medal hopes for four-time Olympian Sofia Konoukh of Russia. Konoukh, who has a bronze medal from the 2000 Olympic Games, will have to settle for the consolation semifinals, out of reach of the medal games.
In another quarterfinal tangle that featured multiple Women of Troy in the water, Team USA and its trio of Trojans - Tumua Anae, Kami Craig and Lauren Wenger - surged out of reach of Italy and three-time Olympian Aniko Pelle. With Craig standing out as a force at two-meters, earning several 6-on-5 opportunities for her U.S. squad, the United States rolled to a 9-6 win over the Italians. That launches Team USA into the semifinals for a shot at extending the USA's medal streak. Craig and Wenger were on the 2008 team that took silver in Beijing. Now, the United States will take on Australia in the Aug. 7 semifinals.
Meanwhile, Pelle and the Italians move into the consolation semifinals with a matchup against China on Aug. 7.
In the last quarterfinal match of the day, USC incoming freshman Anni Espar continued her offensive onslaught with two more goals. Her back-to-back scores in the third period of play pulled Spain ahead of host Great Britain 8-4, and the Spaniards would go on to cement a semifinal spot with a 9-7 finish. Not only is Espar a first-time Olympian, Spain is making its first-ever appearance in Olympic women's water polo.
Semifinal match times are still to be determined. Click here for schedule updates.
Follow the Trojans in their pursuit of Olympic gold at www.usctrojans.com/london2012
TUMUA ANAE USA women's water polo
A three-time first-team All-American and 2010 NCAA Champion at USC, Tumua Anae is a first-time Olympian. Anae got the call up to the U.S. National Team after graduating from USC in 2010 and helped Team USA win 2011 and 2012 FINA World League Super Final championships as well as earn Olympic qualification at the 2011 Pan American Games. She is USC's all-time leader in career saves and single-season saves, and is one of only two goalies to be have been named MPSF Player of the Year.
KAMI CRAIG USA women's water polo
The only female player to win back-to-back Peter J. Cutino Awards as the nation's top collegiate water polo player, USC graduate Kami Craig is playing in her second Olympic Games. A 2008 silver medalist with Team USA, Craig took a break from USC for a season in order to train and compete for the United States in Beijing. Upon returning to USC, Craig helped the Trojans win a national championship in 2010 before closing down her USC career as a four-time All-American and USC's No. 8 all-time scorer. In addition to now being a two-time Olympian, Craig has helped the United States win the FINA World Championships in 2007 and 2009 and most recently was the team's second leading scorer at both the 2012 FINA World League Super Final and 2011 Pan American Games.
LAUREN WENGER USA women's water polo
The 2006 Peter J. Cutino Award winner as the nation's top collegiate water polo player in her senior season at USC, Lauren Wenger stands a a two-time Olympian with a silver medal won with Team USA at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. She has helped lead the United States to gold at the 2007 and 2009 FINA World Championships, picking up honors as the tournament MVP in 2007. As a Trojan, Wenger was a three-time All-American and helped USC make history as the first team to go undefeated in a season with a 29-0 finish en route to the 2004 NCAA Championship, finishing her career in 2006 as USC's No. 12 all-time scorer.
FLORA BOLONYAI Hungary women's water polo
A two-time All-American already after her first two seasons at USC, Flora Bolonyai is a first-time Olympian as she helped Hungary qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in reaching the semifinals of April's qualification tournament. In her sophomore season at USC, Bolonyai helped lead the Trojans to the 2012 NCAA title match. She averaged 10.1 saves per game for USC at the MPSF and NCAA tournaments as she picked up honors on the NCAA All-Tournament Second Team and All-MPSF Second Team.
ANIKO PELLE Italy women's water polo
USC's all-time leading scorer, Aniko Pelle helped the Trojans win their first-ever national championship as a freshman in 1999. She is playing in her third Olympic Games, having played for Hungary in 2004 and 2008 before moving to Italy and marrying an Italian man, and is now competing for Italy in this 2012 Games in London. One of USC's most decorated athletes, Pelle was a four-time All-American and won the 2000 Peter J. Cutino Award as the nation's top collegiate water polo player.
SOFIA KONOUKH Russia women's water polo
The second leading scorer in USC history, Sofia Konoukh played three seasons at USC after making her Olympic debut and winning a bronze medal in 2000 with Russia. She would go on to appear in every Olympics thereafter, making her a four-time Olympian with this year's trip to the 2012 London Games. Konoukh earned back-to-back MPSF Player of the Year honors in her first two years at USC and finished as a three-time first team All-American.
ANNI ESPAR Spain women's water polo
First-time Olympian Anni Espar has signed on to join the Women of Troy as a freshman this coming season.