Breaking the mold

Talented and complete all-around players have routinely come through the pipeline the past decade to eventually star for the Crescenta Valley High girls’ water polo team.

When the chips were down, an athlete like Jessie Stiles, Kristin McLaughlin or Lybov Tchougounova would rise up and become the go-to player the Falcons needed to carry them to a victory or a wealth of Pacific League championships.

These days, Crescenta Valley has another player in that mold in Kim Fraisse, who didn’t begin playing water polo until four years ago. Since then, she’s earned plenty of recognition with her ability to shoot with pinpoint accuracy and hustle back on defense to break up counter-attacks.

Fraisse’s body of work has been recognized throughout the league and CIF Southern Section Division IV.

“I’ve always tried to put my best effort in every game,” said Fraisse, a junior utility player who finished with a program-record 129 goals and team-best 53 steals to lead the Falcons (26-5) to the league crown. “Even when I was tired, I tried to keep going.

“I never got to see Kristin or Lybov play, but I knew Lybov from club. She was really good and I looked up to her.”

Fraisse’s teammates have looked up to her the way players did to McLaughlin and Tchougounova during their respective stints with the Falcons. She recently earned All-CIF first-team honors and was named the league’s co-most valuable player with teammate Sofie Munoz. It is for those reasons that Fraisse was voted the 2010 All-Area Girls’ Water Polo Player of the Year by the sports writers and editors of the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader and La Cañada Valley Sun.

Fraisse, a three-year varsity player, helped the Falcons go 8-0 in league. She finished with a match-high seven goals to spur the Falcons to a 12-7 win against Pasadena in the league’s tournament championship match at Burbank on Feb. 11, the same day in which she eclipsed the program’s goal-scoring standard.

“The thing with Kim was her ability to take over a game single-handedly,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Pete Loporchio, whose team advanced to the quarterfinals for the third season in a row. “Kim can do it all on offense and defense.”

And, in terms of her offense, record-shattering as it was, Fraisse wasn’t even aware that she had shattered Tchougounova’s goal-scoring record. Tchougounova finished with 116 goals during the 2006-07 season en route to being named All-Area Player of the Year.

“You hope stuff like that can happen,” Fraisse said. “I never kept track of it.

“Coach Loporchio came over with the ball and gave it to me. I was in complete shock. It’s an exciting moment and a great achievement.”

Munoz, a senior, had one of the better vantage points from the cage of what Fraisse could do. Munoz watched Fraisse become an elite scorer and someone who could take over a match at any given moment.

“You can always trust her on offense and defense,” said Munoz, who finished with 258 saves and recorded a team-best 42 assists. “She’s been an amazing player and she can go far [in extending her career].

“She also helped out with a lot of our players getting better. She’s very humble and that’s a good quality to have. It’s amazing what can happen when you play with someone that talented and dedicated.”

There’s another season around the corner for Fraisse. Plenty of goals are still within reach, including trying to lead the Falcons to another league crown, and, perhaps eclipse her goal-scoring record.

She’s got about eight months to prepare.

“I’ll just keep on practicing, work on the same things and try to keep it going,” Fraisse said. “We achieved a lot this past season and we’ll see what we can all improve on.”

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