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Cal High Girls Water Polo Preview: Young Team Looks to Improve Last Season's Record

Several changes have Grizzlies looking improved.

School:  California High 

Sport: Girls water polo

Coach: Jenna Casady

2009 record: 8-16

Key returner:  Hannah Dittman

Top newcomer: Melissa Lager

Quote: "Some of us that played during the offseason, and everyone that played during the offseason worked really hard. We should be ready to play." – Melissa Lager.

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The California High School girls water polo team must focus and practice harder than ever in order improve upon its record from last season.

Having lost four starters to graduation, many opportunities to seize a starting role have emerged.  Melissa Lager, a junior goalie, hopes to be one to grab a starting role. 

"Some of us that played during the offseason, and everyone that played during the offseason worked really hard," Lager said.  "We should be ready to play."

Lager wants to improve the effort level of the team during practice.

"We have to get the team to work a little bit harder in practice," Lager said.

Hannah Dittman, a senior, is one of two returning starters.  Along with wanting the team to give more effort during practice, she'd also like the team to improve its knowledge of the game.

"We are pushing knowledge about the game because it's definitely a big weakness right now," Dittman said. 

The Grizzlies are also under new leadership.  Jenna Casady was hired over the summer and is ready to begin her first year as head coach of the team.

Casady brings a different practice style compared to last year.  And the Grizzlies are hoping it pays off during the season.

"We are doing a lot of swimming so far," Lager said.  "So we should be in good swim shape for the season."

Dittman said the added swimming during practice should improve the team's swim speed and the team's speed should be its biggest strength.  While she is still adjusting to the coaching change, she is enjoying the added passion that Casady has brought to the team.

"She's a lot younger than our last coach, but I feel like she's really passionate about the game," Dittman said.  "She puts a lot of effort into our team and that's really nice."

Lager said Casady is quickly learning what works for the team in practice and what doesn't. 

Both Lager and Dittman said an obtainable goal for the team this season would be to finish with a .500 record, which would be great improvement compared to last year. 

Dittman said another team goal would be to still be in contention for an NCS spot late into the season.

 "I'm looking forward to hopefully winning some more games this season," Dittman said.  "I'm looking forward to playing with some of my friends that were on the JV last year who are moving up to varsity."

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