ASU water polo earns MPSF honors as it preps for NCAAs

ASU water polo has a week and a half before heading to its first ever NCAA tournament in program history.

The team is “cracking down” and studying a lot of film, coach Todd Clapper said.

The team is preparing to face California for the third time this season.

“We didn’t really look like ourselves,” Clapper said of the team’s performance against Cal at Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. “We’re going to use this next week and half to bring everything we can together.”

He said the team doesn’t have a 100 percent set game plan at this point, but will continue to review film to pin point what needs to be improved upon.

Clapper said that after going into the MPSF tournament strictly focused on USC, he wants the team to give attention to possible other competitors as well.

“We’re definitely going to continue to watch a lot of Cal film, but we’ll also watch other teams as well,” he said.

In addition to finding out they are headed to their first ever NCAA tournament, several Sun Devils also received honors from the MPSF.

The MPSF named its 2014 All-MPSF Team and All-Tournament team on Tuesday.

After finishing the season with a total of 70 points, 38 goals and 32 assists, junior defender Ao Gao was named to the All-Tournament team.

She also received second-team All-MPSF along with redshirt sophomore goalie E.B. Keeve.

Despite Keeve’s lower total number of saves this season at 276, she still broke her personal school record of saves per game with a 12.55 average on the season.

Keeve also set a new school record of number of saves per game, with a 23-save game against UC Irvine earlier in the season.

Freshman attackers Alkistis Benekou and Izabella Chiappini proved to be valuable assets to the Sun Devil team this year and were both named to the MPSF All-Newcomer team.

Benekou was also given honorable mention for the All-MPSF team.

Between Benekou and Chiappini, the two of them scored 99 total goals for the Sun Devils this season.

Benekou scored the most on the team with 52 goals, and Chiappini was second with 47 goals on the season.

Chiappini also earned 24 assists and 22 steals on the season, adding to her all-around success this year.

Clapper said he is very proud of the achievements his athletes have made this year and is excited to see what comes next at the NCAA tournament.

The Sun Devils face the Golden Bears on May 9 at 5:15 p.m. in Los Angeles.

Reach the reporter at Megan.Kavy@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @meggiekavy