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Rainbow Wahine win Big West water polo championship

With the Big West championship trophy in hand, the Hawaii women’s water polo team can finally look ahead to winning the biggest prize there is.

The Rainbow Wahine finished a perfect run through the Big West regular season and postseason, holding off Long Beach State 9-5 in the final of the Big West Women’s Water Polo Championship on Sunday at Schaal Aquatics Center in Davis, Calif.

Bernadette Doyle scored a season-high four goals and the Rainbow Wahine held the Beach to two goals over the final three quarters to claim the fifth Big West title in school history.

UH ran the table in the regular season and the postseason for the fourth time and are 22-3 overall this season.

Ranked No. 2 in the country, the Rainbow Wahine will find out their seeding in the NCAA Championships during the selection show today at 2 p.m.

“I think today we will let them have some fun and just enjoy,” Hawaii coach Maureen Cole said after the match. “This is awesome. I am so proud of this group for being able to pull it off in a big moment. This is great but we do have bigger goals and we will get back to work next week.”

Hawaii flies home today to prepare for the NCAA Tournament, which is May 10-12 in Berkeley, Calif.

UH last played in the NCAA’s in 2021 and has never finished higher than fourth.

The Rainbow Wahine already were likely in with their resume, but made it official with the win over Long Beach State, which was the No. 3 seed in the Big West Tournament and reached the final after upsetting No. 2 UC Irvine in the semifinals.

Doyle, who scored all of her goals in the first half, added a season-high four steals and an assist and was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

“I think I had a good game today, but I couldn’t have done it without everybody else working,” Doyle said. “We’re ready to go. We’re going to go back home and work really hard. We’ve been working for months and just like the other teams we want this really bad. We’re excited.”

Jordan Wedderburn and Alba Bonamusa Boix added two goals apiece, with Bonamusa Boix putting the game away with a back-handed shot off of a rebound for the final score with 2:51 remaining.

Bonamusa Boix became the first Hawaii player to record 200 goals and 100 assists in a career in Friday’s win over Cal State Fullerton in the first round.

Former UH player Lara Luka had three goals for the Beach, who took a 3-2 lead in the first quarter on Rachael Kowalchick’s goal with 2:20 remaining in the first quarter. It was the first time UH had trailed against a Big West opponent since the start of conference play.

“We got a little bit used to their style of play,” Cole said. “We weren’t the most organized to start the game.”

Doyle answered with a goal on a power play on an assist by Lucia Gomez de la Puente and Alia Burlock put UH ahead in the final minute of the first quarter on a rebound off a Doyle shot that was blocked by Luka.

Bonamusa Boix extended UH’s lead with a goal on a power play in the second quarter and Doyle scored her fourth goal off an errant pass following an ejection that prompted Long Beach State to call timeout.

Luka broke a Beach scoring drought of more than nine minutes with a goal with 40 seconds left in the first half but Wedderburn dunked a pass from Roni Pearlman into the net on another power play with nine seconds to go to put UH ahead 7-4 at halftime.

Wedderburn put UH ahead 8-4 in the third quarter on a no-look, back-handed shot. The only Beach goal in the second half was scored by Mariah Walker on a power play.

“Early on we kind of made a few defensive mistakes on our own so we cleaned that up a little bit,” Cole said. “We put the ball away when we could. I think we missed a few opportunities that could have broken up a little bit more in the third quarter, but our defensive was solid all game along, especially after those first couple of breakdowns early in the first quarter.”

UH converted five of its 11 power-play chances while the Beach went 2-for-7.

Hawaii goalkeeper Daisy Logtens came up with a huge save early in the first quarter on a penalty shot and finished with eight saves and a .615 save percentage.
Source: The Garden Island

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