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CHAMPIONS: Number 101

Ladies and gentlemen here are the back-to-back-to-back-to-back national champions:

Photo by Leigh Alvarez, Daily Bruin staff

From the Daily Bruin on our women’s water polo team (33-0) bringing home number 101, capping a perfect season, beating Troy in the championship game in Palo Alto:

"It’s an unbelievable feeling," Krikorian said. "These girls played with so much heart today. To go undefeated is incredibly difficult. These girls handled it really well and stayed focused on the task."

It was clear from the first minutes of the game that this was not the same UCLA team that struggled early on in an 11-4 semifinal win over No. 5 UC Davis on Saturday afternoon. Three goals from junior Tanya Gandy and seniors Courtney Mathewson and Gabrielle Domanic in the first three and a half minutes of the first quarter gave the Bruins a lead they would not relinquish.

They built on that momentum in the second quarter and by halftime had a 5-1 lead over the Trojans.

"I think a big key today was getting off to a good start," Krikorian said. "It settled us down and gave us some confidence."

The second half saw the Trojans with a new wind. USC won the opening sprint and worked the ball to UCLA’s cage but still struggled to get shots past junior goalkeeper Brittany Fullen. It wasn’t until a 6-on-5 opportunity with 1:03 left in the quarter that the Trojans got another goal, bringing the score to 5-2.

"They had a really strong start, and we were really nervous," USC senior Veronika Bartunkova said. "When we started playing, it was too late."

With this championship Coach Krikorian has effectively carved himself out a place in the Mt. Rushmore of Bruin coaches along with Coach John Wooden, Al Scates, and Sue Enquist.

Coach Krikorian did this by adopting the philosophy of yet another rock star head coach from Westwood. Again from the Daily Bruin:

After three years of leaving the NCAA Tournament with trophy in hand, the Bruins’ desire for more hardware did not fade. UCLA’s fierce defense, a staple of coach Adam Krikorian’s championship teams, was as tough as ever, even down to the last seconds of Sunday’s 6-3 victory.

"You would think they would be a little complacent and not as hungry to get back there, but that has not been the case at all," Krikorian said. "That’s a credit to them and their personalities, their drive to become better players and for us to become better as a team."

All but one of the seniors started on a team that ran through the 2008 season like a freight train. Individually, they collected a slew of awards for their play in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular season and the NCAA Tournament.

And speaking of those Seniors, it was of course the fourth straight title for Jillian Kraus, Kamaile Crowell, Gabrielle Domanic, Courtney Mathewson and Brittany Rowe, who finished their UCLA record with a RIDICULOUS 123-6:

Photo by Leigh Alvarez, Daily Bruin staff

Simply incredible.

Junior Tanya Gandy, who scored one of the first Q goals to get our team going, was named the MVP of the tourney as she connected 5 times in the Semi and the Final game.

More on the game from AP writeup and the official website.