With a National Collegiate Club Championship winning streak for the past three years, six national titles, nine Pacific Coast Championship Titles and a strong returning team, players said they can do it again.
Seniors Erika Bigbie, Kelley Gause and Sarah Ur have all been starters since their freshman years at Cal Poly, and have helped the team lead the Collegiate Water Polo Association’s (CWPA) Pacific Coast Division.
“It’s great to be a part of a winning program and for a core group of us, there is an opportunity to win all four years,” Bigbie said.
Bigbie, a journalism senior, is the team president and an all-conference and All-American performer. Bigbie said the team’s goal is to constantly improve from the previous season. This goal, she said, is what motivates her to work harder.
“Our expectations were different our first year compared to the past two seasons,” Bigbie said. “I think our team goal of a repeat brought us closer as a team. We bonded with the incoming freshmen faster because we knew from the beginning what we were working for.”
Civil engineering senior Gause plays driver as well as hole D, and was on the 2010 all-conference second team. For her, three consecutive national titles are the result of hard work, following the idea that “what you put in is what you get out.”
Biomedical engineering senior Ur is nationally recognized as the 2008 and 2010 CWPA National Player of the Year. She has been a first team all-conference and first team All-American player since her freshman year.
Ur has been working on her game since 7th grade, as a 2-meter hole set and 2-meter guard. The hardest but most rewarding part, she said, is working as a team.
“It’s hard to organize, motivate and inspire such a large group of people when you’re a student-led organization,” Ur said.
The team puts in their time, spending more than 15 hours in the water every week, not including tournament time. Even on the off days every team member chooses to spend their free time with each other.
“Seeing these girls night after night, it’s hard not to fall in love with each and every one of them,” Gause said.
Bigbie said this is what makes the team so hard to beat.
“As a team we have grown closer through every season and every win,” Bigbie said. “Every year there is more pressure to repeat and I think our bond grows stronger because of it.”
With three years of experience as starters, the senior trio hopes to return strong for the 2011 season with all of the team’s starters returning: forestry and natural resources senior Noelle Wondergem, food science and nutrition junior Kate Warner, earth sciences sophomore Kristy Avis and economics sophomore Casey Clark.
“I’m hoping that with these girls and a few special new ones we’ll be able to make it to the national stage again to defend our titles,” Gause said.
2009 Nationals were held at UC Davis; the Mustangs played Notre Dame in the finals and won 6-4.
2010 Nationals were held at Arizona; the Mustangs played Michigan State in the finals and won 6-5.