The regular season has come to an end and the ASU water polo team is set to head to Los Angeles on April 25 to compete in the MPSF championships.
The Sun Devils are the No. 6-seed at the tournament and will face No. 3-seed USC on the 25th in the first round of the tournament.
ASU fell to USC earlier in the season in a 15-6 loss at home.
Junior attacker Petra Pardi said that initially, the players were nervous when discovering they had to face USC first in the tournament.
She said they are getting less nervous with time, but regardless, it will be a tough game.
“Obviously, we are the underdogs,” Pardi said. “We were really upset with how they beat us earlier in the season, but it’s something we can come back and prove ourselves this time.”
The tournament takes place at USC’s home pool, but Pardi said she isn’t worried about that.
She said the team has had a lot of positive practices recently.
“I’m feeling really confident,” Pardi said. “I feel that we are going to be able to react to pretty much everything we expect them to do pretty well.”
Coach Todd Clapper said things are coming together and the team’s defense is getting to where it needs to be.
If the Sun Devils win, they will go on to face the winner of No. 2-seed UCLA and No. 7-seed Bakersfield.
ASU lost to UCLA 11-7 earlier in the season and won against Bakersfield 14-3.
If the Sun Devils lose, they will face the loser of that game in the semifinals and will have a shot at playing in the fifth-place game.
ASU needs to place at the top of the competition in order to receive a bid for the NCAA tournament, which takes place May 9-11.
ASU fell to UCLA 10-7 at last year’s MPSF championships.
With a fourth-place finish at the tournament, ASU missed out on a chance for an NCAA bid, which went to UCLA.
The Sun Devils hope to finish higher this year and take the team to its first NCAA tournament.
Pardi said she is confident in the team’s abilities and believes it is in a better position this year than it was last year.
Although the team ended its season earlier than it wanted last year, ASU had its best season in water polo program history with a 26-7 finish.
The ASU vs. USC game begins 12:30 p.m. Friday. If they win, ASU’s second game will be at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and if they lose, they will play at 10:30 a.m.
The championship game takes place at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Reach the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @meggiekavy