Bulldogs persevere through early season injuries

Fresno State utility Savannah Fitzgerald goes for a shot in the game against Fresno Pacific on Feb 19, 2022 at the Fresno State Aquatics Center. (Estela Anahi Jaramillo/ The Collegian)

Fresno State water polo team has been able to continue their 10-7 overall record as they head into the midseason, carrying a 6-0 home game record despite being plagued with injuries.

Head coach Natalie Benson said she is impressed with the way her team has been able to handle the adversity. 

“We’ve got a super competitive schedule up to this point, and the next few games we play are going to be high level. We’ve been bit by an injury bug. So, we’re kind of playing around with some people in some different positions, but it’s only going to make us stronger going into conference play,” Benson said. 

Fresno State utility Brooke Ochoa looks for a pass in the game against Fresno Pacific on Feb 19, 2022 at the Fresno State Aquatics Center. (Estela Anahi Jaramillo/ The Collegian)

Benson highlighted key players this season, starting off with Paula Nieto Jasny, returning goalkeeper for the Bulldogs. 

“[Nieto Jasny] holds it down. She makes great passes. [She’s] really athletic. It gets some big blocks,” Benson said.

The team’s top scorer this season is freshman Fanni Muzsnay, with 49 career points for the 2022 season. She’s followed by Daphne Guevremont with 43 career points. 

“Fanni, she’s done a really nice job so far as a freshman and is hyper, athletic, shoots the ball well, defends well and has really good speed,” Benson said. 

The coach also highlighted freshman Brooke Ochoa for her explosive defense and offensive spark.

Benson called attention to Emily Nicholson’s strong hold in the center position. 

“She commands a lot of attention and allows for our perimeter players to get some opportunities to take shots,” Benson said. 

Fresno State Center Emily Nicholson goes for a shot in their game against Fresno Pacific on Feb 19, 2022 at the Fresno Aquatics Center. (Estela Anahi Jaramillo/ The Collegian)

The Bulldogs have participated in several tournaments this season such as the Arizona State Tournament, where they went 1-3.

From Jan. 29 to 30, the Bulldogs competed in the Cal Cup in Berkeley. They went 2-2, with two losses to Cal and San Jose State and two wins against UC Davis and Long Beach. 

Before the 2022 Fresno State invite, the Bulldogs lost two games against USC and UCLA. They also took two wins against San Jose State and Biola. They went 4-0 in the Fresno State Invite with wins over Fresno Pacific, Indiana State, Long Beach State and San Jose State. 

This past Saturday, the Bulldogs continued their home winning streak in the GCC opener with a win against Santa Clara University with the score of 19-6. 

Benson said the tough non-conference schedule will prepare the team down the road. 

“[The games are] giving us some extra reps, some extra runs, to allow some people to be ready for conference play starting next week,” she said. 

“If we were able to win our conference, we would get a berth into the NCAA Championship tournament, and that’s what our goal is: to win our conference and go to NCAA,” Benson said. “So, if we hit some bumps along the way, that’s all part of the process.”

Fresno State utility Savannah Fitzgerald goes for a shot in the game against Fresno Pacific on Feb 19, 2022 at the Fresno State Aquatics Center. (Estela Anahi Jaramillo/ The Collegian)
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