No. 17 Indiana water polo travels to Irvine, California this weekend for the Kalbus Invite. The University of California-Irvine will host the event named after water polo icon, Doctor Barbara Kalbus. The Hoosiers look to bounce back after they went winless in last weekend’s Fresno State invite.
The Hoosiers have had their fair share of tough competition to start the season. All of the teams they’ve played within the past two weeks are all ranked in the most recent Collegiate Water Polo Association poll.
On top of that, Indiana has played five different teams who are ranked within the top 15, including the No. 1 team in the nation, University of California-Los Angeles. In the last two invitationals, the Hoosiers are a combined 1-6.
Despite going 0-3 in the Fresno State Invite, the Hoosiers stayed at No. 17 in the CWPA poll ahead of the Kalbus Invite. The Hoosiers also sit in last place behindseven teams in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference standings.
So far this season, the Hoosiers’ offensive has been led by senior center Izzy Mandema with a team-leading 28 goals. Senior attacker Tina Doherty and freshman attacker Skylar Kidd, who each have 19 and 17 goals, respectively, have also provided consistent offensive production.
As opposed to the recent invitationals Indiana has participated in, the Kalbus Invite is set up in a tournament format with a group stage and bracket.
The Hoosiers sit in Group D along with No. 5 University of Hawai’i, No. 6 Michigan and No. 18 Loyola Marymount University. The Hoosiers’ only officially scheduled opponent for now is the Michigan Wolverines.
The Wolverines are 7-5 this season, including wins over fellow group member No. 5 Hawai’i and No. 9 Arizona State University. They’ve faced tough competition as well, with 10 of their 12 games goingagainst top 10 opponents. The Wolverines are led by graduate attacker Maddie O’Reilly, who leads the team with 24 total goals and 15 total assists.
Depending on if Indiana wins against Michigan, the team could have possible matchups with Hawai’i and Loyola Marymount. The Hoosiers are already familiar with the Rainbow Wahines as the two teams matched up Jan. 30 in the Michigan Invitational. The Hoosiers will be looking for a comeback win after a 15-8 loss in the first meeting. Hawai’i is 6-2 overall this season with losses to No. 6 Michigan and No. 2 University of Southern California.
Loyola Marymount comes into the Kalbus Invite at 4-5 overall with wins over No. 21 San Diego State and Ottawa University. The Lions’ opening game will come against the Rainbow Wahine on Feb. 25.
The Hoosiers play the Wolverines at 6 p.m. Friday, and the winner of that matchup will take on the winner of the game between Loyola Marymount and Hawai’i. If the Hoosiers’ were to lose their opening game, they would face the loser of the other Group D game. Both of the second round games take place at 11 a.m. Saturday.
From there, the winner of Group D’s bracket play will face the first-place team from Group A. The loser of Group D’s championship game will take on the second-place team in Group A. Whichever team in Group D that loses its opening two matches will have a matchup with the third-place team from Group A. Group A consists of three teams: No. 1 UCLA, No. 10 University of California-Davis and No. 11 University of California-San Diego.
Sunday’s competitions are reliant on which teams win and lose in Friday and Saturday’s matchups.
The Hoosiers will look to make a statement and bounce back from a poor start to the season against some of the top teams in the country at the Kalbus Invite.