After two weeks without competition, No. 17 Indiana water polo looks to bounce back this weekend after its letdown at the Michigan Invitational, where it finished 1-3. The Hoosiers head to Fresno, California, where they compete in the Fresno State Invitational.
The Hoosiers moved up to No. 17 in this week’s Collegiate Water Polo Association poll despite not playing in each of the past two weeks. They look to use those rankings in a way that can be positive and beneficial to the team, head coach Taylor Dodson said.
“That's the only ranking we have,” Dodson said. “It's hard not to pay attention to them.”
It has been two quiet weekends for Indiana as the team hasn’t played a game since Jan. 30.
“I think we needed it,” Dodson said. “We were able to take the last couple weeks and really focus on us and sharpen, sharpen some things up and get a little bit deeper into our offense and into our team defense.”
Indiana had a tough time finishing its games past the half, outscoring all four opponents at the Michigan Invitational 26-23 in the first half, but was outscored 13-26 in the second half. Indiana was also only able to cross the ten-goal threshold in just one of its four games.
“We've been playing around with different lineups, subbing in different times and seeing how that can keep the group refreshed, while also putting out the best group that we think we need at the moment,” Dodson said.
Indiana looks to compete against the tougher opponents with its talented roster.
“We have a much deeper team than I've had here before,” Dodson said. “(We’re) trying to figure out lineups, and I think that that was something in the last few weeks that we've cleaned up a lot.”
During the break from competition, Indiana’s focus during practice has been on the defense, although Dodson and her team know it’s hard to beat a good team if Indiana can't score ten goals.
This weekend, Indiana will yet again face tough competition. No. 17 Indiana will take on No. 10 University of California-Davis, No. 8 Fresno State University and No. 13 Long Beach State University this weekend in a span of fewer than 24 hours.
The Hoosiers start their Saturday in the evening at 6 p.m. against No. 10 University of California-Davis. The Aggies enter the game 7-5 overall after a 2-2 showing in the Triton Invite this past weekend, including a loss to No. 6 Michigan. Before they take on the Hoosiers, they play No. 11 San Jose State.
Later that Saturday, at 10:30 p.m. the Hoosiers take on No. 8 Fresno State. The Bulldogs are 4-7 on the season with all of their games so far this year against top-15 opponents, including five games against teams within the top 5. The Bulldogs lost to University of California, Los Angeles 8-12 on Feb. 5.
The Hoosiers get right back to work at noon Sunday against No. 13 Long Beach State. The 49ers are 4-6 on the year, coming off the Triton Invite where they dropped three of their four games. One of their wins of the season includes an 11-8 victory over the University of California Santa Barbara.
“It’s motivating,” Dodson said of the quality of teams they play this weekend. “We're expected to battle every single game.”