The University of Redlands women's water polo team kicks off the spring season on Wednesday, February 13, by welcoming Cal State Northridge and Cal Baptist University to the Thompson Aquatic Center for a mini-tournament.
This year's senior-laden squad brings experienced talent and strong leadership to the mix. Goalkeeper Kelly Grosswendt (Newbury Park, CA) anchors the team's strong defense with her reach, anticipation, and tenacity. Utility players Katelyn Jenkins (Bellevue, WA) and Breanna O'Dea (Rowland Heights, CA) bring versatility and skill to play all positions while providing balance on both sides of the pool. Attackers Wendy McAleer (Simi Valley, CA) and Sami Walker (Taylorsville, UT) also add balance to the pool with the double threat of speed and scoring. Shoring up the center of the pool, Carmen Gardner (South San Francisco, CA) serves as a center-defender, while Kolby Kahahawai (Kailua, HI) plays the center-forward position.
"We are looking for Carmen and Kolby to continue to assert themselves offensively and defensively," commented Head Coach Chris Gielen.
Overall, these seniors have worked very hard to be successful in the classroom and in the pool as athletes, and provide the leadership the Bulldogs need on a daily basis.
In addition, the women's water program welcomed four new players who are starting to shine in the early part of the season. Ally Feeley (Menlo Park, CA) is a right-handed attacker who played at Menlo-Atherton High School and NorCal Aquatics Club. She was very involved with student life by participating in choir, cheer, and musical theater, and helped coach age-group water polo at Peninsula Water Polo Club. Another right-handed attacker, Nicolette Ramirez (Whittier, CA) played for La Serna High School and SOCAL Water Polo Club. She was a dual-sport athlete in swimming and water polo who also found time for First Club, Class Council, and the Hearts for Homeless Club. Holly Kvanvig is a right-handed attacker who played for Westview High School (OR) and Tualatin Hills Water Polo Club. She served as the team captain, earned All-State recognition, and helped her team advance to the state tournament. The Bulldogs also look forward to the contributions of Hunter Olivier (Indio, CA) as a right-handed utility player who played for La Quinta High School and Citrus College. She was a standout player for both programs and one of the leading scorers in the state at the junior-college level.
These student-athletes will see immediate opportunities and the coaching staff is very excited to incorporate them into the Bulldogs' system of play.
"We have been building up the pieces of the program for the past four years and now are ready to take the next step, which is a top-four finish in the SCIAC," added Gielen.
Last season, Redlands finished just shy of that in fifth place with several close games coming just short. Overall, the team brings great focus and motivation for the challenges that lie ahead in 2019.
February Game Schedule:
2/13 - Redlands Mini-Tournament
2/16 – 2/17 Bulldog Invitational
2/23 – 2/24 Macalester (MN) Invitational
2/27 – SCIAC home opener vs. ULV
2/28 – Doubleheader against Siena and McKendree
For the Bulldogs' complete schedule, please visit GoRedlands.com.