Water polo to focus on defense, fundamentals against Cal

Mariam Salloum looks to score in a game against San Diego State on March 3. Salloum and the Sun Devils look to even the season series with Cal at home on Saturday. (Photo Sam Rosenbaum)

An exciting weekend is ahead for the ASU water polo team, as it gets ready to face No. 4 California for the second time this season.

The tone of practice this week has been positive coming off a victory over No. 5 San Diego State, but things are just starting to heat up for the No. 6 Sun Devils (15-2, 1-0 MPSF).

Coach Todd Clapper said the energy in practice has been good and the players are starting to prepare specifically for Cal (15-4, 2-0 MPSF).

“The game plan is going to be a little bit different for Cal than San Diego State, just because they have different players (and) different strengths,” Clapper said.

He explained Cal is a very physical team and “they hustle well. They’ve got some good shooters and they’ve got a really strong center player.”

Senior Annabelle Carter agreed the Sun Devils are going to have a tough matchup against the Golden Bears, and shutting down their center is a key priority.

“We’re going to try and adapt our game a little bit to suit Cal’s strengths and try to shut them down for the weekend,” Carter said.

Senior Mariam Salloum is excited for a second shot at victory.

“We’re practicing very intensely because we’re preparing for a battle,” she said.

The Sun Devils lost 8–5 to the Golden Bears on Feb. 25, but they’re looking to implement the last two weeks of practice into their performance and continue to succeed in conference play.

“We had a really good game this last weekend, so we’re setting a standard for ourselves the way we play,” Salloum said. “We want to play just the same way, if not better, and continue to grow as a team.”

ASU expects its competitors to come out strong, but remains positive its players can break down their opponent.

“We still have to maintain that competitive edge from the weekend,” Carter said. “We know if we get too excited about it, we could get a little bit arrogant. We don’t want that. We want to stay level headed and continue to improve for the game against Cal.”

Positioning and attacking the transition are goals for ASU this weekend, as well as improving on both offensive and defensive fundamentals.

“I feel like if we can control the possession and we can play defense like we played last Saturday, we put ourselves in a pretty good position to take away the victory,” Clapper said.

ASU will host Cal on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center.

 

Reach the reporter at fawade@asu.edu

 

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