BURBANK— The Burbank High and Burroughs girls’ water polo teams didn’t finish among the top two teams in the Pacific League during the 2009-10 season.
However, both squads did qualify for the CIF Southern Section playoffs, as the Bulldogs placed third and the Indians were fourth.
With their share of talented athletes, the squads are hoping to move up in the standings this season.
Here is a look at how the teams are shaping up.
The Bulldogs (12-15) have a fine core of returning players, players Coach Carlos Pelayo hopes will help the team compete with the league’s top teams.
“We essentially have the entire team back from last year,” Pelayo said. “We are lucky that we have two players back who have been with the program for a few years now. They give us some experience.”
Those players are senior goalkeeper Sarah Tubert and senior utility player Jordan Card. The pair is the only remaining link to Burbank’s 2009 Pacific League championship team. The players were sophomores on that title team.
Last season, Card — who also plays golf and is a thrower in track and field — earned a spot on All-Pacific League and All-Area first teams. She finished with team-high 99 goals, second all-time in program history, and added 69 steals.
Tubert, who also stars for the Bulldogs’ volleyball team, is an accomplished keeper whom Pelayo said has improved from year to year.
Also returning is senior driver Danielle Reid, who made a splash in her first season a year ago. Other athletes who will be expected to contribute are junior driver Natalie Pentkowski and junior hole/guard Nichole Valencia.
“We have some players who can play different positions,” Pelayo said.
In the league race, Pelayo said he expects a tough going, with Crescenta Valley returning its share of players from its title team.
Like Pelayo, Indians Coach Danny Garcia has a versatile group of athletes who he can switch around in different spots.
“That is my goal for our players,” Garcia said. “I want to have as many players as possible be able to play as many positions as possible. That will only benefit us in the long run.”
When Garcia took over the program last season, the transition was a slow process. However, this year things have seemed to go much more smoothly.
“When I took over there was that situation where the players were learning about me, how I do things and what I’m like,” he said. “But working last season and over the summer, they know what to expect from me now.”
The returning core of the team includes senior hole/guard Meghan Ferguson, junior hole/set Sam Buliavac and junior utility Erika Green.
The goalkeeper will be junior Savannah Simmons, who played primarily on the junior varsity level last season but saw some time on varsity.
“She is tall and has a long wingspan,” Garcia said of Simmons. “She has been getting better as a goalkeeper.”
Junior utility Andrea Young and senior utility Paloma Barrera will also be expected to contribute.
In league competition, Garcia thinks Glendale should have a formidable squad.
“We are tying to move up in league, and hopefully get a better playoff game,” he said.