After earning the No. 2 seed and a bye in the first round of the regional water polo championships, the Cuesta College men’s team began the playoffs with a convincing 18-9 victory over No. 7 seed Riverside on Friday at Cuesta’s pool.
Led by Eric Marsh’s team-high six goals and Luka Vukomanovic’s four, Cuesta (24-8) won all four quarters and continued to get stronger as the game got older.
The Cougars took a 7-5 halftime lead, and put the game away in the third quarter by outscoring Riverside 5-2.
Cougars goalie Thomas Ross saved 15 shots.
The 10-team bracket is now whittled down to four teams, who will meet today to play for the championship.
Third seeded Long Beach advanced to play Cuesta at 12:15 p.m. In the early game, top seed and defending state champion Golden West will play fifth seed Mt. San Antonio at 11 a.m. The winners play for the championship at 4 p.m., with the third-place game to follow.
The Cougars have played Long Beach twice this year and won both times, although the cumulative goal differential is just 20-17. Cuesta played Golden West once this year and lost 12-9.
Cal Poly 74, Seattle 57
The Mustangs won their season opener in Seattle’s Connolly Center.
Numerous Mustangs scored, but reigning Big West Conference player of the year Kristina Santiago was one who didn’t.
Santiago played just two minutes and didn’t score. It wasn’t known if Santiago suffered an injury.
Guard Rachel Clancy scored 18 points, had nine rebounds and seven assists on the night. Forward Abby Bloetscher scored 14 points and had seven rebounds.
The Mustangs shot .541 from the floor to .246 for Seattle.
Seattle’s Salena Dickerson led all scorers with 21 points and also grabbed 11 rebounds.
Cuesta 69, Bakersfield 68
Kati Sheldon had 26 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out, the Cougars overcame 29 turnovers and Ron Barba won in his return to head coaching in a nonconference game at Allan Hancock College.
Leading a roster of just eight players, Sheldon — a Paso Robles High graduate — also had three steals in her college debut.
Gabriela Morales had 28 points and 18 rebounds for Bakersfield, but Anika Bauermeister poured in 19 for the Cuesta, which got a game-winning defensive stop from Jennifer Ginsburg on the final possession.
“It’s a blue-collar team, not a big name on it,” said Barba, who was a late replacement for retired longtime coach Ed Musolff, but they’re working hard.”
Cal Poly 3, Pacific 1
The Mustangs kicked off their final homestand of the season by beating the Tigers (16-11, 7-7 Big West) 25-20, 20-25, 25-23, 25-22.
The Mustangs (20-7, 10-4) are third in the Big West behind front-runner Cal State Fullerton and second- place Long Beach State.
Cal Poly had four people in double figures for kills with Jennifer Keddy leading the way with 15 and hitting a team high .353. Keddy leads the Big West in hitting at a .366 average.
Catie Smith notched 13 kills, and Dominique Olowolafe had 10.
Kristina Graven, who has been in double figures for kills in all but three matches this season, tallied 11 kills along with 15 digs.
Sarah Cawrse handed out 47 assists and had nine digs. Alison Mort led the Mustangs with 23 digs.
Cuesta 3, Oxnard 0
The Cougars won 25-12, 25-21, 25-4 behind the play of Tess Gilkey and Sara Hoversten.
Gilkey and Hoversten tallied nine and eight kills, respectively.
Ensley Allmon led the Cougars (5-4 Western State Conference) with 24 assists.