UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, Hawai'i Receive Highest Honors
Links associated with this release:
2016 Women's Water Polo All-Conference
After claiming UC Santa Barbara’s first-ever Big West Conference tournament title, the Gauchos garnered one of the top awards in Coach of the Year Serela
Kay. Hawai‘i attacker Irene
Gonzalez put up a stellar performance in her first campaign, earning Big West Freshman of the Year accolades while UC Irvine sophomore utility, Mary
Brooks, received Player of the Year honors for her outstanding 2016 campaign.
In just her second season with the Gauchos, Kay led her team to its first-ever conference tournament crown and its first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. UCSB finished the regular season with a 3-2 mark in league play to earn a No. 3 seed in the Big West Tournament and the Gauchos put on a show on their way to the title. In the first round of play, UCSB defeated CSUN 8-4, then recorded a thrilling sudden victory win in the semifinals to upset No. 2 UC Irvine in a 7-6 finish. The Gauchos would complete the tourney sweep with domineering 11-5 win in the title game over defending champion, Hawai‘i. UCSB has been ranked as high as No. 7 nationally this season and have not been ranked any lower than No. 14. Santa Barbara will challenge Stanford in the first round of the NCAA Tournament next week in Los Angeles.
A Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain native, Gonzalez is the second Rainbow Wahine to claim Big West Freshman of the Year honors. The attacker recorded 73 goals in 28 games played for a 2.61 goals per game average, the best in the Big West. The freshman paced the conference with her score total and helped Hawai‘i to a 20-8 record, its first 20-win season since 2013. Gonzalez made noise in the Big West Tournament, recording a four-goal performance in Hawaii’s first outing versus UC Davis. Her four goals tied the eighth-best mark in the Big West Tournament record book for goals scored in a single game. The freshman followed up her performance with a hat trick in the semifinals versus regular season champion, Long Beach State, and concluded with a score in the championship match. Her eight goals in the conference tournament were second-best among all scorers.
Brooks led UC Irvine with a total of 55 goals and received her second Big West award in two years after garnering Big West Freshman of the Year honors last season. The sophomore is the fifth Anteater to receive the award. The sophomore led the ’Eaters in scoring on 13 occasions, including a season-high six goals against Long Beach State on Feb. 13. She also recorded a hat trick in the Big West Tournament third place game against the 49ers, securing third place for her squad. Brooks’ 1.83 goals per game average is third-best in league.
The all-conference first team features a slate of first-time honorees in UCSB’s Lauren Martin, Mackenzie Brokaw and Samantha Murphy. Irvine’s Brooks and Hawaii’s Gonzalez represent the Anteaters and the Rainbow Wahine, respectively, while Allyson Hansen represents the Aggies. Rounding out the honorees are Alexis Butler and Virginia Smith of Long Beach State who also make their debut appearances on the first team.
The complete 2016 Big West women's water polo all-conference team is available at the above link.