After going undefeated in its first tournament of the year, the No. 5 ASU water polo team travels back to California for another weekend of games.
The Sun Devils will participate in the UCSD Triton Invitational for the second straight season, hoping to repeat last year’s performance and walk away with another championship trophy.
ASU’s first game will be against Marist College (0-1) on Friday morning. The Red Foxes lost their lone game of the season 13-4 to No. 16 Hartwick.
While Marist may not be ASU’s most challenging opponent of the season, it will be one of its most interesting.
When the Sun Devils take the pool Saturday morning, a former member of the ASU water polo program will be on the deck attempting to lead the Red Foxes to a victory against her alma mater.
Former ASU attacker Candice Phillippe now serves as an assistant on the Marist water polo coaching staff. Phillippe wrapped up her Sun Devil career in 2011 and joined the Red Foxes’ staff in October 2012.
ASU rode behind the strong performances of senior Alicia Brightwell and redshirt freshman E.B. Keeve to begin the season on a strong note.
Brightwell netted 17 goals, while Keeve recorded 66 saves in her first six college starts to help the Sun Devils get off to a undefeated start.
“(I feel) a lot better than I did the last tournament just because now I have a feel for the game and playing, so I’m going into the game with a lot more confidence,” Keeve said. “I feel like I can do a lot better, personally, in this tournament.”
The Sun Devils had a lot of time after the UCSB tournament to prepare for this weekend’s tournament since the team didn’t play last weekend.
“Right now, in the tournament schedule, we’re just trying to train, get as fit as we can, get as good as we can,” coach Todd Clapper said. “The way we look at the tournament schedule is (that) it’s really just preparing us for our conference season.”
MPSF conference members CSU Bakersfield and No. 2 USC are both participating in the tournament over the weekend.
It’s unlikely that the Sun Devils will run into CSU Bakersfield during the tournament.
ASU and No. 2 USC could face off in the championship game Sundayif both the Sun Devils and the Trojans take care of business on their respective sides of the brackets.
Another tournament championship, especially over the Trojans, would give both ASU’s preseason résumé and conference hopes a huge boost.
“It’s definitely making a statement to everyone else,” senior center Shannon Haas said. “It’s saying, ‘Watch out, here we come.’”
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