Coming into the season, the Clovis girls water polo team had moderate expectations mixed with a solid group of experienced players after winning the D-I Central Section title in 2017.
But lo and behold, the Cougars exceeded even their own expectations, and went 10-0 in league behind a strong senior group.
With a league as strong as the Tri-River Athletic Conference, one never knows how the season will play out in the water.
However, the Cougars, and their 21-9 overall record, clearly played well all season.
“Capable and actually going undefeated are two different things,” Clovis coach Noah Minton said. “We have several teams in our league around the same level as us. We make a couple more mistakes and the game goes the other way. Thankfully, this year they stayed strong for all 10.”
The Cougars beat runner-up Clovis West by scores of 6-5 and 7-5, and then beat Buchanan 14-12 in a high-scoring game that went into overtime.
They were led all season by senior Abby Mammen, who scored four goals in last year’s
5-4 win over Sanger in the D-I championship game and was named First Team All-American last year. Mannen, named a team captain, scored 27 goals in league on the season with 15 assists, 19 steals and 15 exclusions drawn.
“Abby Mammen is our most aware athlete and can do anything,” Minton said. “She anticipates the game very well. ”
Guard and senior Isa Sonkoly played in Hungary last year and leads the team in goals in league with 29.
Sophomore Libby Alexander is “very competitive, fast, strong and stubborn,” according to Minton and has scored 20 in league.
Senior Libby Cooper shares captain duties with Mammen, and we can’t forget the goalie Emily Lancaster and her 53 blocks.
Clovis received the No. 2 seed in the Central Section Division I playoffs and will play the winner of No. 7 Sanger and No. 10 Paso Robles on Thursday, Nov. 3
Clovis West is the No. 3 seed, Clovis North No. 4, Clovis East No. 5 and Buchanan No. 6.
Arroyo Grande, from the Central Coast, went 22-6 on the season and was awarded the No. 1.
The finals are scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 10 at Fresno State, a daylong event featuring every division final game in a neutral pool.