When it comes to dominating the competition in the pool, nobody does it better than the Vavic family. Following a season in which head coach Jovan Vavic and his son Nikola guided USC to its fifth straight men’s water polo NCAA title, Jovan Vavic and daughter Monica have won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation coach of the year and MPSF player of the year honors, respectively, after leading the Women of Troy to a win in the MPSF title game and earning the No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament.
For Jovan Vavic, the honor is his fourth coach of the year award for the women’s team and 10th overall. After leading the team to a 24-1 season, including two big upsets against reigning national champion and preseason No. 1 Stanford, his selection is largely undisputed. His coaching abilities were highlighted by the emergence and integration of the USC system of many first-year USC stars, including freshmen Anni Espar and Jayde Appel and junior Hannah Buckling, who transferred to USC from Sydney University.
Not to be outdone by her brother Nikola, who also won MPSF player of the year honors in the fall, sophomore Monica Vavic holds her own in the family. In addition to her player of the year honor, Monica Vavic leads the conference with 71 goals this season, making her fourth on the list of single-season goals scored by a USC player. A force on both offense and defense all season long, her nine goals this past weekend in the MPSF tournament earned Vavic a spot on the all-tournament team and also earned her first-team all-MPSF honors for the season. Vavic’s selection as MPSF player of the year is the ninth time in history that a USC player has won the award. Her career 110 goals lead the current roster.
Along with Monica, teammates Espar and junior goalie Flora Bolonyai were selected as first team all-MPSF players. Espar, a reigning silver medalist at the 2012 London Olympics with the Spanish national team, blasted 25 goals this season, six of which came this past weekend in the MPSF tournament. Bolonyai has anchored the Trojan defense all season, hauling in an average of just fewer than eight saves per game, including nine big ones against Stanford in the MPSF title game.
Junior two-meter Kaleigh Gilchrist, who serves as co-captain of the team, was named to the all-MPSF second team. Buckling, also named MVP of the MPSF tournament, received an honorable mention distinction.
The Women of Troy will begin their last leg of their run to the title game May 10 in Cambridge, Mass. Their first round match pits them against No. 8-seed Pomona-Pitzer (18-16) at 2:15 p.m.