One was a strong offensive force who garnered her share of attention, while the other was a defensive stalwart who frustrated opponents with her quick reflexes and solid skills.
Whatever their roles this past season for the Burroughs High girls’ water polo team, senior two-meter standout Sam Buliavac and junior goalkeeper Ahsha Earwood were two of the key components that helped the Indians enjoy a successful season.
The two helped Burroughs place second in the Pacific League, almost pull off a stunning upset of champion Crescenta Valley and advance to the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs.
For their efforts, Buliavac and Earwood have been named to the All-CIF Division V third team.
It is the first time in 11 years Burroughs players have earned All-CIF honors. The last award winners came in 2001, when Erica Boneti earned Division III second-team honors and Erin Knowles was named to the third team. That season, the pair helped lead the Indians to a 19-7 record and a second-place finish in the Almont League behind Division III champion Bell Gardena.
“We couldn’t have done a lot of the things that we did without the two of them,” Burroughs Coach Danny Garcia said. “Defensively, Ahsha blocked anything and everything that came her way and Sam was the person we went to consistently when we needed a big goal.”
Along with scoring 137 goals with a 70% accuracy rate, Buliavac also tallied 40 steals, 26 assists and drew an impressive 52 ejections.
“She just never stops in the pool,” Garcia said of Buliavac. “She always wanted more. She was always willing to step up and take the crucial shot when we needed it. She is just so strong that teams had a hard time containing her.”
Because of her skills, Buliavac was often double- and triple-teamed.
Earwood had 268 saves to go along with 52 steals and 16 assists. Garcia said Earwood joined the team last summer with limited water polo ability. But the junior worked hard to hone her goalkeeping skills and made an instant impact in the Burroughs program.
“She is extremely nimble in the water and she is very agile,” Garcia said. “She also has great hand-eye coordination and her reaction time is just unbelievable. I think she was the best goalie in our league and she’s one of the best goalies that I’ve seen, in general, boys or girls.”
The Indians (20-5) placed second in league behind the Falcons and fell in the quarterfinals to Redlands East Valley, 10-5. The team also won its first-ever home playoff match, defeating Elsinore, 11-6, in a first-round contest.
In the Pacific League Tournament championship match, the Indians played well and lost to Crescenta Valley, 8-6.