USC looking to defend UCI Invitational Championship

Seven games into the season and the USC women’s water polo team is looking strong and maintaining their competitive spirit.

This weekend, the team is looking to have a successful tournament in front of their families at the UC Irvine Invitational.

After last week’s decisive victories against Long Beach State and San Diego State, USC remains at No. 2.

First on the docket is No. 18 UC San Diego on Saturday morning.

This weekend is important for the team as they look to continue to prove themselves in the water.

As an added push, the teams this weekend will be playing all their games close to home at UC Irvine’s Anteater Aquatic Complex, and they look to receive some added encouragement and support from their families.

“I think it’s special to be able to play in front of our families,” said senior driver Joelle Bekhazi. “Since we’re in Irvine, we’ll have a lot more friends there too. UC Irvine is usually our big tournament where we come out number one so hopefully we can keep doing it again and show every that we’re amazing.”

The girls also are looking to team bonding this weekend as they entertain the possibility of once again competing against rivals UCLA and Stanford. Their level of confidence needs to be high, and they understand their level of confidence rises the more they can rely on one another for advice and encouragement.

“I think they biggest thing here is that we’re a family. We’re together,” said senior two-meter Sarah Van Norman. “Nobody knows what we go through day in and day out with our coaching staff, with each other, and I think that’s what builds our bonds and keeps us strong. We’ve done all the grunt work and it’s going to bring us all together at the end.”

The Women of Troy (6-1) know that they can depend on one another for support, and they believe this is a large part of why they have so many rising players and a plethora they can count on to score goals and always be prepared to play.

“Coach [Jovan Vavic] is very big on being a selfless team,” Bekhazi said. “This is why we win — because we have such diverse girls and we can all shoot the ball. We all set each other up; we all work for each other. It’s not like we have just three talented girls. We have 18 talented girls. Drop off any one of us, and we’re still all going to finish.”

The diversity accounts for much of the team’s success and high goal scoring, but the team also knows that this weekend they have to play hard on both sides of the ball to be able to win their way to be Invitational Champions.