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Published September 7th, 2016
Miramonte and Campo Girls Water Polo Make Division I Jump
Members of the Miramonte girls water polo team hope for a title repeat. Photo Gint Federas

Miramonte head coach Noel Murphy drew a comparison to the NBA when asked to describe his squad - the reigning NCS champs.
"We're not the Houston Rockets where James Harden just comes down and shoots every single time," Murphy said. "We're more like the Golden State Warriors. We look to pass to the open man and everybody gets involved. And that's how we win."
Last year, that approach brought the Mats the NCS Division II title. If the team is going to claim another section crown, they'll have to do so against a new set of competitors, after getting bumped up to Division I.
"It's going to be extremely competitive. It's going to be enjoyable. It's going to be a dogfight," said Murphy, whose Mats began the league season with a trip to Northgate on Sept. 28. " And we look forward to the challenge."
The Mats have five juniors who are returning as starters. All five - Skylar Savar, Kelly Murphy, Carson Broad, Katrina Drake and Grace Tehaney - were All-League, All-East Bay and All-Northern California last year. Tehaney was also the MVP of the league.
"They're all D-1 prospects - no doubt about it. They're going to be playing in college somewhere in two years," Murphy said. "But it's more of a - they're very good teammates. They (work) together very well."
Campolindo was the team that lost to the Mats last November in the NCS title match in Lafayette. Like the Mats, the Cougars have been pushed up to Division I this fall.
"With most of our players returning from last year, we expect to be among the top teams again this season," said head coach Kim Everist. "It should be a fun and exciting year."
The Cougars compete in four nonleague matches before beginning the Diablo Athletic League schedule with a rivalry showdown against Acalanes on Oct. 5 at home.
"We have a strong senior group who will lead the way in Becca Buck, Carlie Crumbaugh, Kari Jensen and Olivia Price, with an experienced team of juniors and sophomores by their side," Everist said.
With no shortage of talent - and experience - in the pool, the Cougars have all the elements needed to make another postseason push in the upcoming months.
"This team expects a lot from themselves," Everist said. "Just having fun and keeping it simple will be key to their success."
Acalanes boasts a roster that is even younger than the junior-led Mats or the runner-up Cougars. The Dons have three freshman on the varsity roster - the highest total since head coach Misha Buchel took over the program back in 2005.
"We graduated well over half of our goals and minutes played from last year's team," Buchel explained. "In the early part of the season we have a lot to figure out - which lineups to play and what roles players will have."
Acalanes has already played a pair of non-DAL matches, beating St. Vincent-St. Patrick at home 22-0 on Aug. 23 and losing to Drake 9-6 on the road on Aug. 31.
As the Dons gain experience through the six-match nonconference slate, Buchel will rely on sophomore Lexi Rowell and junior Bella Wentzel to help anchor the lineup.
"They are the two returners that had the biggest roles from last year," Buchel said. "And both really improved over the last nine months during their club seasons."
With the DAL seasons looming, Buchel knows that staying mentally strong will be of the utmost importance for his young Dons.
"The biggest challenge is going to be maintaining confidence individually and as a group," Buchel said. "We're going to make mistakes early in the season. The key is for us to use those for growth rather than have it shake our belief in ourselves."

The Campolindo team is returning most of its players this year. Photo Gint Federas

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