Following its revenge victory against Biola in the Golden State Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals, the Westmont women’s basketball team set its sights on Vanguard, a team the Warriors lost twice against during the regular season.
“We stayed to watch Vanguard play The Master’s College in the second semifinal,” Westmont coach Kirsten Moore said at Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table press luncheon at Harry’s Plaza Cafe. “It was a one seed versus a four seed. Master’s was up at halftime and my girls want Vanguard to come back and win because we want to play them. I love the mentality of my team.”
Master’s held on to win in its home gym, so the Warriors will face the Mustangs in the championship game Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Hope International in Fullerton. The game is being televised live on Fox Sports West and Fox College Sports.
While her squad didn’t get Vanguard, Moore said Master’s is “playing great, arguably the best of any team in our conference. They’ve won 10 of 11. We’re going to have to play incredibly well.”
She was proud how her team dug deep against Biola, which had a first-round bye whereas the Warriors played against San Diego Christian.
The revenge factor helped.
“They beat us in our worst lost of the year,” Moore said. “Our girls, needless to say, were incredibly motivated, fired up and very, very focused. I can’t say enough for my girls’ efforts.”
The hustle showed in the rebounding department. The Warriors outboard the bigger Eagles, 50-42. Lauren McCoy was a force in the game, grabbing 15 rebounds and scoring 17 points. Sophomore guard Kayla Sato also played big, scoring 24 points, hauling in 13 rebounds and making three steals.
“When she plays like that, we’re going to be really hard to beat.”
As for playing in the final, Moore said: “If our girls hustle, play defense and rebound the way we have, I like our chances.”
Westmont: The Warriors (24-7) will learn Wednesday who their opponent will be for at the NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City, said coach John Moore.
The coach raved about the play of senior Hayden Anderson in Friday’s 102-86 GSAC Tournament quarterfinal win over William Jessup. The senior captain drew four charging fouls and had six steals in the game.
“The equivalent would be hitting for the cycle, scoring four goals in a soccer match or back-to-back 300 games as a bowler,” Moore said of Anderson’s defensive stats. “That’s the kind of day he had at the office.”
Moore pointed out that Anderson considered leaving the program after his sophomore year.
“We convinced him to stick around,” he said. “Since that time he’s not looked back and either have we. He’s the kind of guy who will lead us in the national tournament. We’ll succeed based on how well Hayden plays. What I like best about him is he never takes any plays off. Hayden is a guy who will give his all for as long as his all is there to be given.”
WOMEN’S WATER POLO
UCSB: After 19 games, coach Serela Kay is ready to start Big West Conference play. Her team is 13-6 and has one more non conference game at Sonoma State on Thursday before beginning defense of its conference title on Saturday at UC Davis.
“We are where we want to be, so I’m excited about that,” said Kay, who introduced seniors Brenna Thomas and Taylor Shore
Thomas has filled the role as the sprinter and “has done a great job,” said Kay, who added that Thomas has great personality and keeps the team loose. “She’s the type of person you want to have on our team to keep things light.”
Shore is the team captain and the leading goal scorer. “In articles she’s been called the ‘Shore Thing,’ and she is the real deal,” said Kay. “She’s consistent and dependable.”
San Marcos: Coach Jeff Swann gave a shout-out to last year’s squad that reached the CIF quarterfinals. Two key members of that team are back to lead the Royals: senior Hailee Rios and junior Hailey Fryklund.
Rios, who signed with Fresno State, “just hits the ton out of the ball,” Swann said. “She hit a 250-foot triple (at the Simi Tournament) and is still pitching lights out. She’s definitely a force for us.”
Rios is the team captain.
Fryklund, a junior third and first baseman, is a team leader. She bats behind Rios in the No. 4 spot and has a homer and triple in five games.
“These are two superstars for us. They’ll help us make a run for it this year,” said Swann.
Bishop Diego: Assistant coach Mike Cano said the Cardinals will use a pitching-by-committee approach this season after their backup pitcher decided not play this spring.
Kylie Koeper, a standout at third base, will get the first start on Tuesday when the Cardinals open their season against Viewpoint. “She was the first one to step and wanted to pitch,” said Cano.
Team captain Kara Murray also will get some work on the mound. Her regular position is first base.
Cano said starting catcher Miranda Alvarez has been working well with the pitchers.
San Marcos girls: Coach Chuckie Roth said he has the biggest squad he’s ever had with 47 swimmers. He brought three standout freshmen who are expected to make an immediate impact: Claire Kronen, Angie Drake and Olivia Akin.
He said Kronen brings a lot of enthusiasm, talent and speed. She played on the varsity water polo team.
Drake was a big surprise, he said. “As much as you swim freestyle in water polo, you don’t swim the specialty strokes. So, I have the girls come in and do a 50 of each stroke… and Angie is fast. She’s really going to help us out this year. I’m super excited about it. She wants to earn a spot on the 4×50 relay. That would get her a trip to CIF and State, if we qualify.”
Akin comes to the Royals from the Santa Barbara Swim Club. She does the breaststroke and freestyle. Her older sister, Lili Rose, was a junior starter on the water polo team. “I’m lucky to have another Akin in the family for another four years,” said Roth.