Finishing on Top

Water polo: UCI secured a 12-7 victory over the LMU Lions on Friday after honoring its five seniors.

On Friday, April 19, the women’s water polo team and community honored its five seniors before taking on Loyola Marymount University on Senior Night at the Anteater Aquatics Complex. Devin Crothers, Layne Kipp, Kelsey Klatt, Taylor Morrison and Rebecca Voytilla were celebrated for their contributions over the past four years as ’Eaters.

“Senior night was really a time of reflection and pride,” Kipp said. “As the five of us seniors stood in front of the crowd and were honored, all of the hard work that we had put into the sport we love seemed worth it. The four years of brutal swim sets, tough cross fits, body aches from lifting, and exhaustion from the late nights of studying were the last things on our mind. Instead, the only thoughts in our heads were about the amazing relationships that were created over these four years and how lucky and privileged we were to be a part of something so special.”

Crothers, from Riverside Poly High School, contributed four goals in 2011 and six in 2012, with seven steals, four exclusions and two field blocks. This season, Crothers has put away four goals, six steals, six assists and six blocks in her final campaign.

Kipp, who was three-time All-County at Edison High School in Fresno, California, began her career as an Anteater with a goal in her freshman season. In 2011, the English major scored five goals in 20 matches played while recording three assists and four steals. In her junior season, Kipp totaled 13 goals with 14 assists, 11 steals, 11 exclusions and one block. In her final go-around as an ’Eater, Kipp has nine goals, 19 assists, nine steals and four blocks on the season.

Also from Fresno, California, Klatt began her first year with 18 goals in 13 games played. In her second season, the center played in all 32 games, matching her 18 goals from the previous season while adding 32 steals, 15 assists and seven blocks to rank second on the team that year.

Morrison, who attended Valley Center High School, scored five goals as a freshman, eight as a sophomore and four as a junior. In her sophomore campaign, Morrison recorded five assists and nine steals while earning 20 steals, four exclusions and four field blocks her junior year. This year, Morrison has totaled 13 goals, 14 assists, 18 steals and nine blocks.

The 2011-2012 UCI Scholar-Athlete, Voytilla scored four goals in her first season sporting the blue and gold. In 20 matches her second year, Voytilla totaled one assist and six steals. The following season, the Clovie, California native scored three goals, totaled five assists, four steals, three exclusions and one field block. So far this year, in her final campaign, Voytilla has three goals, five assists, four steals and one block.

With the combined efforts of the five seniors and their teammates, the ’Eaters clinched a 12-7 victory against the No. 11 LMU Lions (17-12, 6-1). Irvine improved to 19-8 on the season and 6-1 in Big West play.

In the first period, Irvine dominated early to take a quick 4-0 lead — Michaela Pierandozzi recorded the first two goals of the night. Unfortunately for the ’Eaters, LMU clawed its way to a less drastic 4-2 deficit by the end of the first period.

With the same intense energy, Irvine scored four more goals in the second period on a converted penalty shot from Camrbia Shockley and a buzzer-beater from Hillary Estrada for an 8-3 lead at the half.

The Lions and the ’Eaters had identical goal-counts in the final two periods, scoring one in the third and three in the fourth for a 12-7 final.

Pierandozzi and Ambyr Stewart both shot for hat-tricks on Friday, while McKenna Mitchell and Cambria Shockley added two goals and both Klatt and Estrada recorded one each.

With the 12-7 final, the seniors went out on top.

“Senior night was emotional for me and my fellow graduating seniors,” said Klatt. “All five of us began together as freshmen on the UCI Women’s Water Polo team and have since shared many life experiences throughout the four-year journey that have enabled us to become best friends. We have fought together, lost together, cried together and succeeded together, and our senior night was a time to reflect on those moments and appreciate them for the memories they will become to hold onto for the rest of our lives. It meant a lot to me to stand up there with the teammates in my class and thank them for what they have done for me and with me.

“I am so proud of my fellow seniors and the other members of my team for being such committed, devoted and hard-working individuals. They have made my experience here at UCI very rewarding. I am trying to take in and enjoy the time I have left with them as much as I can. I know I can trust that we, as a team, will do whatever it takes to make this season a great one.”

As Big West play came to a close, Irvine claimed a share of the Big West title as they look toward the Big West Tournament that will take place on Friday, April 26, at 3:30 p.m. The ’Eaters will face either UC Santa Barbara or UC Davis.