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Local women’s water polo players set for FINA World Championships

Local women’s water polo players set for FINA World Championships
Stephania Haralabidis, shown scoring for the U.S. women's water polo team in an exhibition match against China on Dec. 14, 2017, will make her FINA World Championships debut with Team USA. (Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Six local women’s water polo players have been selected to represent the United States at the upcoming FINA World Championships, which begin Sunday in Gwangju, South Korea.

USA Water Polo announced Wednesday that Corona del Mar High graduates Stephania Haralabidis and Maddie Musselman, Laguna Beach High products Makenzie and Aria Fischer, Newport Harbor High alumna Kaleigh Gilchrist and Edison High product Alys Williams are among the players on the 13-athlete roster.

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The roster includes nine members of the team that won gold at the 2016 Olympic Games, including Musselman (UCLA), the Fischer sisters (Stanford) and Gilchrist. Gilchrist, a USC graduate, will return to the World Championships stage for the first time since 2015 after stepping away from water polo in the summer of 2017 to focus on surfing.

Haralabidis, a left-hander and another USC graduate, will play in the FINA World Championships with Team USA for the first time.

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The United States opens play on Sunday against New Zealand at 5:50 p.m. Pacific time. Matches against the Netherlands and South Africa follow on Tuesday and July 18, respectively, to close out group play.

The tournament continues with the crossover round July 20, the quarterfinals July 22, the semifinals on July 24 and the title match on July 26.

Team USA is currently ranked No. 1 in the world and has claimed gold at the last two FINA World Championships. The United States has won five FINA World Championships titles overall, more than any other women’s water polo nation.

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