Water polo looks for strong finish in conference play

The ASU water polo team is focusing on evolving its game and building on fundamentals this week in practice.

The No. 4 Sun Devils (21-5, 3-3 MPSF) are preparing to finish up strong in conference play this weekend as they face Hawaii and Cal-Baptist.

Coach Todd Clapper said the team’s preparation is as normal as any other week before facing competition, but it’s stepping up the intensity and adding new dimensions to its regime.

“We realize where we need to be in conference championships, and we just need to be a little sharper in our conditioning,” Clapper said. “We can’t back off.”

The Sun Devils are stressing conditioning as well as the importance of working under pressure in special situations.

“We’re just trying to finish strong on what we’ve learned throughout the whole season,” senior Kelsey White said.

Senior Mariam Salloum said the Sun Devils are working harder on their fitness with the MPSF championships just around the corner.

White and Salloum agreed they are both working on their shots in efforts to defeat their competitors.

“That will be really helpful if I can improve on that for this weekend, but also in the long run,” Salloum said.

Because this will be the first time ASU will face either team, it realizes it need to be prepared for anything.

Clapper said Hawaii is capable of beating anybody because it's a tough team, and Cal-Baptist has a lot of good scorers.

“(It’s) just a matter of making sure we don’t give them any good looks and play our game,” Clapper said.

The Sun Devils are not only looking to take away two wins, but also to end the season on a positive note for the seniors.

White said coming away with wins, especially for senior day and the last home games, are goals for the team this weekend.

Clapper explained the team’s priority is to play well on both offense and defense.

“Then we have two weeks to polish up before we go into championships,” he said.

To wrap up the regular season, the Sun Devils will host a double header on Saturday against Hawaii and Cal-Baptist at the Mona Plummer Aquatic Center in Tempe starting at 11 a.m.

“We’re just trying to go in and play our own game,” Salloum said. “That’s the focus, and if we can get that right, it doesn’t matter who we go to play against.”

Reach the reporter at fawade@asu.edu

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