West Valley vanquishes Santa Barbara City for first CCCAA Women's Water Polo Championship

West Valley claimed their first state championship. (David Sanborn)
West Valley claimed their first state championship. (David Sanborn)

LIVERMORE - The West Valley Vikings captured their first-ever CCCAA Women's Water Polo State Championship with a thrilling 6-5 win over Santa Barbara City College on Saturday at Las Positas College. The Viking win is the second-ever for a northern California team (Sierra 2018) and, with coach Erika Vargas at the helm, the first ever for a female coach. Fullerton College topped San Joaquin Delta 13-9 in Saturday's third-place game.

CHAMPIONSHIP - #1N West Valley Over #1S Santa Barbara 6-5

The state championship came down to a Kiki Melvin save at the buzzer as West Valley held off Santa Barbara City College in the championship. Trailing 6-5, the Vaqueros got the ball back with :33 remaining after an unforced WVC error by keeper Grace Smith. SBCC coach Chuckie Roth called a timeout and set up a play that called for Vaquero goalie Chloe McKay to start the play. McKay fired a shot with two seconds left that Melvin slapped away to cement the first state title in West Valley history.

It was all West Valley early, as the Vikings jumped out to a 3-0 lead on goals from Paige McCroskey, Johanna Scheer and Aaliyah Lax.  A Santa Barbara goal from Emily Clapham made it 3-1 after one.

The Vaqueros (30-7) came all the way back in the second with goals from Jenna Olsen and Charlize Winter. Melvin scored with 3:28 left in the half to give West Valley (32-2) a 4-3 advantage at the break.

The teams traded goals in the third with Ensley Letterman scoring at 7:20 and Melvin finding the back of the cage with :14 left in the quarter.

Winter got the equalizer for SBCC at the 6:51 mark in the fourth, but state scoring leader Scheer netted the game-winner with 5:49 to go. The teams traded bar-outs - the sound of balls hitting the uprights and crossbars was constant throughout - until the dramatic Melvin-field-block-ending.

Melvin and Scheer paced the champions with two goals apiece, while Lax and McCroskey tallied one goal each. Smith followed her 19-save semifinal effort with 11 saves. Winter paced SBCC with a pair of goals.

THIRD PLACE - #2S Fullerton Over #2N San Joaquin Delta 13-9

One of the closest, most-entertaining games of the tournament saw Fullerton use a big final quarter to hold off the Mustangs. Neida Torres scored on a power-play goal at the 6:43 mark of the opening quarter to put the Hornets on top and give Fullerton a lead they would never relinquish. Delta goals from Olivia Taylor and Mackenzie Lincoln made it 3-2 after one.

Multiple exclusions highlighted the second period. A power-play goal from Lincoln knotted it up at 5:39, but power-play tallies from Jordyn Lughart and Julissa Velazquez, that countered a player-up goal from Delta's Jojo Hurles, gave the Hornets a 5-4 advantage at the break.

The Hornets held a 9-7 advantage heading to the fourth thanks to a pair of goals from Tarsis Ledezma. Two more goals from Ledezma highlighted a 4-2 Hornet fourth to give the defending state champions the third-place victory.

Ledezma paced the Hornets with four goals, followed by three from Velazquez and Adrianna Wong. Lincoln had three goals for the Mustangs, and Taylor had two.  

All-Tournament Team
MVP: Grace Smith, West Valley

West Valley
Kianna Melvin
Johanna Scheer

Santa Barbara
Megan Ditlof
Eden Tal 

Fullerton
Charley Johnson

San Joaquin Delta
Camryn O'Neil

(Matt Folsom, CCCSIA)