A closer look at the 2007-08 Pacific League girls' water polo season will indicate that it proved to be remarkable for several area programs.
The Crescenta Valley High squad captured its fifth consecutive league championship and ninth overall. Crescenta Valley, Glendale and Burbank also all advanced to the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division IV playoffs in February, marking the first time that three local schools from the same league advanced that far in the same postseason.
While a combined 10 athletes from Crescenta Valley and Glendale earned all-league honors for their accomplishments, five picked up All-CIF accolades in concluding their high school careers.
Isla Zilbert, Keri Kunkel and Kelly Anderson of Crescenta Valley and Glendale's Shaggy Abolian and Casey Sripramong secured All-CIF honors.
Zilbert and Abolian were named to the All-CIF first team after being named the league's co-most valuable players. Kunkel and Sripramong were placed on the All-CIF second team, while Anderson earned a spot on the third team.
Zilbert, a senior goalkeeper, earned her first All-CIF selection after recording 247 saves and 26 steals while helping the Falcons go 22-8 and 8-0 in league to remain atop the league that saw four teams qualify for the playoffs. It marked the first time that Zilbert earned All-CIF honors.
â€œ[Getting All-CIF] was in the back of my mind,â€ Zilbert said. â€œI'm surprised I made the first team.
â€œMy goals were to win league and go far in the playoffs. I wanted to be there for my team by being the last line of defense.â€
Abolian, a senior utility player, enjoyed her most successful year after helping the Nitros go 19-10 and 5-3 in league for third place. She scored a school record 186 goals, including 173 in the regular season.
Abolian, who helped spark Glendale to an appearance in the semifinals last season, also contributed 47 assists and 89 steals. Those numbers triggered a rise to first-team status this season.
â€œI was really hoping to get on the first team,â€ Abolian said. â€œI worked really hard during the offseason.
â€œI'm excited for the season I had, but it's all about teamwork.â€
Kunkel, a senior driver, proved to once again be reliable for the Falcons. She notched 55 goals, 18 assists and a team-high 94 steals en route to achieving her first All-CIF honor.
Crescenta Valley Coach Pete Loporchio, who took over the program prior to last season, said Kunkel showed vast improvement.
â€œHer biggest difference was her approach to training and playing,â€ said Loporchio, who was named the league's coach of the year for a second straight season. â€œShe was a lot more focused.
â€œAn example of that would be how she was more content with making a steal than scoring a goal. She led by example.â€
Sripramong, a senior utility player, proved to once again be the backbone of Glendale's defense.
The versatile Sripramong collected 68 goals, 92 assists and a team-high 103 steals.
â€œIt's a testament to how hard Shaggy and Casey worked throughout their water polo careers,â€ Glendale Coach Bob Zirovich said. â€œThey provided a great 1-2 punch, and led us on the counterattacks.
â€œThere were so many times when Casey would get a steal and an assist with Shaggy finishing it off.â€
Anderson, who didn't play last season, was another valuable member for the Falcons.
The senior utility player finished with a team-high 61 goals and 37 steals to pick up All-CIF accolades for the first time.
â€œKelly did everything we asked of her,â€ Loporchio said. â€œLike Keri, she led by example on a team that, for the most part, was inexperienced.â€