This past weekend’s loss to San Diego State in the last round of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships left an air of finality in what had become an increasingly dismal end to the 2001 season for the UCSB women’s water polo team.
Santa Barbara went into the championship with a sour taste in its mouth after dropping its last five matches. The Gauchos’ only hope was to make one final dash through the championship round and cross their fingers for the best.
UCSB ended up dropping three of four matches, settling for eighth place in the tourney. Despite how gloomy the results seem on paper, many team members felt that the season ended on a good note.
“I think all of us fell short in a way,” junior two-meter offense player Kelley Tiffany said. “It wasn’t one person just making a mistake. Despite the fact that we lost, [we had two] close-scoring games and we played really well.”
The Gauchos clinched their only win of the weekend in the first match against Irvine. The Anteaters barely put up a fight and UCSB won 6-1. Unfortunately, the second match was a completely different story. Santa Barbara was matched up against #2 UCLA; the Bruins were ruthless, taking control quickly and winning easily.
The third match of the weekend pitted UCSB up with host University of Hawai’i. The Gauchos were leading 2-0 after the first quarter, but the Rainbows inched their way on top and took the game, 8-7.
On the last day of the tournament #7 Santa Barbara was slotted to face #8 San Diego State. It was a back-and-forth match, but the Gauchos slowly fell behind and found themselves the victim of a 6-4 deficit until they rallied to tie the match up at 6-6, sending the game into overtime. During the second period of overtime, Aztec Holly Hartzell finally found a hole in the Santa Barbara defense and sent one reeling into the net to win the match, 7-6.
“We had, like, 10 million shots in the San Diego game but we just didn’t put any away,” junior Jenny Holladay said.
The final loss to San Diego State flip-flopped the final rankings by putting the Aztecs in at #7 and UCSB at #8, and it also marked the end of the Gauchos’ season.
“It just came down to San Diego and Hawai’i being lucky,” Tiffany said. “There were just a couple of missed shots here and there, but they just had a few less.”
The leading goal-scorer for the year was Tiffany, who found the back of the net 51 times, while senior Yvonne Conard led the team with 166 blocks.