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Bulldogs make first playoff trip

Jeff Tully

Burbank High can look on the bright side and be happy it didn’t draw

either of the top two seeds for its opening match in the CIF Southern

Section Division I playoffs.

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However, the Bulldogs didn’t avoid drawing a tough team in the

program’s first trip to the postseason.

For its first match, Burbank will have to travel to Rancho Santa

Margarita for a 3:15 p.m. contest Thursday against Santa Margarita,

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which is seeded third.

“We knew we were going to get a tough draw. That’s what happens

when you finish third in your league,” Bulldog Coach John Abdou said.

“Orange County is a mecca when it comes to high school water polo,

and water polo in general. The teams out there are usually very good

and the players have been competing for a long time.”

Abdou is familiar with Orange County, having played collegiately

at UC Irvine.

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Despite the apparent tough draw, Abdou said his team will relish

the opportunity to compete in the playoffs.

“I still have all intentions of caching them to win the game,”

Abdou said. “It is going to be a great experience for us and we are

going to try and make the best of it.

“You have to realize that this is the first taste of playoffs for

all of these girls. I want to go down there and represent Burbank. We

are going to try and show them that we can play good water polo here

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too.”

Burbank (13-8, 6-4 in league) finished third in the Almost League

behind Montebello and Bell Gardens. Its only other losses came in

tournaments, along with a 6-5 nonleague defeat against Glendale.

In just its third year of existence, Burbank has improved this

season, after winning just five matches a year ago.

One of the reasons for the turnaround is the play of senior Brisa

Sandoval, who leads the team with 60 goals. Jessica Ullo has also

helped lead the charge, scoring 42 goals.

In goal, the Bulldogs have a confident player in Nadine Ishak, who

has tallied 167 blocks.

For Santa Margarita, it comes into the match as a power in the

Southern Section. The Eagles (18-8, 3-0) also won the Serra League

championship.

The Eagles have a lot of talent, and their eight losses have come

against Santa Ana Foothill (No. 1 in Division I), Newport Harbor (No.

2 in Division I) and Corona del Mar (No. 1 in Division II).

Three Santa Margarita players have signed to play at Division I

colleges -- Kacy Kunkel (UCLA), Erika Figge (USC) and Aimee

Stachowski (UC Santa Barbara). A fourth -- Sarah Hamilton -- is still

deciding where she wants to play.

“We can’t think about [Santa Margarita] too much,” Abdou said. “We

just have to go and play, and hopefully we’ll be able to compete.”


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