Women's Water Polo: UCI vs. USC preview

UC Irvine vs. USC

Where/when: USC's Uytengsu Aquatics Center, Friday at 1:45 p.m.

Key Anteaters: Sr. Jessy Cardey; Jr. Danielle Warde; Sr. Hannah Croghan; Jr. Jillian Yocum.

Key Trojans: Jr. Monica Vavic; Sr. Fiora Bolonyai; Sr. Kaleigh Gilchrist; Fr. Stephanie Haralabidis; Fr. Ionna Haralabidis.

Breakdown: The No. 3-seeded Trojans (24-3) won their fourth NCAA title in 2013 and are 19-0, including two decisive wins this season, against No. 6-seeded UC Irvine (24-7), heading into the quarterfinal matchup ... UCI has won six straight since a 16-5 loss at USC on April 6 and won its fifth Big West Conference Tournament title after capturing the conference regular-season crown ... It's the third NCAA Tournament appearance for UCI, which finished fourth in 2012 and fifth in 2011 ... Warde, the Big West Player of the Year, paces UCI with 56 goals, followed by Cardey (52), who is now UCI's career scoring leader with 218 ... Croghan (44 goals) was Big West Tournament MVP ... UCI's Dan Klatt needs two wins to reach 200 in his coaching career ...Vavic was the 2013 NCAA Player of the Year and has 67 goals this season ... Bolonyai, USC's all-time saves leader, was the NCAA Tournament MVP in 2013, when then-top-seeded USC beat then-defending-champion Stanford, 10-9, in the third sudden-death overtime ... Gilchrist, a Newport Harbor High product, earned first-team All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation honors this season. A captain, the 2013 All-American has 33 goals, fourth-most on the team ... Stephanie Haralabidis, out of Corona del Mar High, has 53 goals and was named to the MPSF All-Newcomer team ... Ionna Haralabidis, also a CdM High product, has 33 goals, while freshman Avery Peterson, a former Newport Harbor standout, has seven goals in 2014 ... USC leads the MPSF in scoring (15.2 per game) and scoring defense (just fewer than five per contest) ... UCI is averaging 10.7 goals a game and allowing 5.87 goals against, which would be a school record ... USC defeated UCI, 14-7, in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament ... USC, which opened the season 20-0, finished fifth in the MPSF Tournament and has lost three of its last seven games ... Friday's winner advances to Saturday's semifinal at 5:15 p.m., against either No. 2-seeded UCLA (25-4) or No. 7-seeded San Diego State (27-10) ... The loser plays the fifth-place semifinal on Saturday at noon ... The championship match is Sunday at 5:30 p.m ... USC, guided by U.S. national team coach Jovan Vavic, also won NCAA crowns in 2010, 2004 and 1999 ... USC is making its 11th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

— Barry Faulkner

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