USC Women's Water Polo Signs Stellar Class for 2014
Nov. 19, 2012
Jovan Vavic's women's water polo program will be seven players stronger in 2014 thanks to a standout class of signees who inked national letters of intent this week to join the Women of Troy. The group includes two Greek additions -- sisters Ioanna and Stephanie Haralabidis -- along with a set of five California natives in Elizabeth D'Ambra, Avery Peterson, Melanie Slater, Nicole Stansfield and Mikayla Tyler.
"Overall this is a very talented class - arguably the best class in the country," Vavic said of this incoming crew. "We have covered every position we need, with a lefty, righty, goalie, excellent outside shooters, post-ups and defenders. This is a really good group of girls that can lead us to another national championship."
Ioanna and Stephanie Haralabidis were recently crowned 18-under champions as members of Greece's Junior National Team. Stephanie boasts a deft left-handed shot, while Ioanna is a talented righty. Vavic anticipates the pair to be an instant injection of talent to the Trojan roster in 2014.
"They've both already played on the Greek National A Team," Vavic said of Ioanna and Stephanie Haralabidis. "They're both very athletic, are around 6 feet tall, and are fast and strong physically. They really are the two best players in this class."
Hailing from nearby Rolling Hills, Calif., Elizabeth D'Ambra was an All-CIF Division I Third Team selection as a junior out of Palos Verdes High.
"I've known Ellie since she was 8 years old," Vavic said of D'Ambra. "She was a starter on the Palos Verdes High team when they won the CIF championship as a freshman. She's an excellent outside shooter. She's very fast and an extremely hard worker."
Avery Peterson comes to Troy from Newport Harbor High, where she provided 47 goals, 18 assists and 58 steals in her junior season.
"Avery can play 2-meter offense and 2-meter defense, which is really a great quality to have," Vavic said of Peterson. "She plays on one of the best high school team in the nation and won CIF last year. I think she has a chance to help us immediately."
Melanie Slater brings some important goalie talent to the Trojan roster, having served as a starting goalie for her Wilson High team in Long Beach, Calif.
"Melanie is a very talented goalie and is going to compete for playing time here very soon," Vavic said of Slater.
Even more Southern California skill comes with utility Nicole Stansfield, an All-CIF Second Team honoree as a junior, when she also provided 58 goals and 41 steals for her Foothill High team.
"Nikki is a strong girl who can play a bit of everything and who has an excellent shot," Vavic said of Stansfield. "She's very strong and can post up, too."
Bringing another dose of versatility to the Trojan roster is Mikayla Tyler, another All-CIF Second Team honoree as a junior out of Santiago High in Corona, Calif.
"Mikayla is another 2-meter defender who can also set," Vavic said of Tyler. "She's a smart player who has been playing water polo for a long time. She is very defensive-oriented and will help our defense immediately with her good water polo intelligence and sense of the game."
This impressive group of seven newcomers will join a talented 2014 Trojan roster that already includes two Olympians -- Flora Bolonyai and Anni Espar -- as well as 2013 newcomers Jayde Appel and Kelly Mendoza, who are tabbed to see their first USC playing time this coming season. That 2014 roster will also be highlighted by 2012 All-Americans Bolonyai, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Colleen O'Donnell and Monica Vavic.