Glendale High boys' water polo gets another shot at title

There might not be a need for player introductions prior to the Glendale High and Los Altos boys’ water polo teams diving into the pool with a championship on the line Saturday.

The Nitros and Conquerors are quite familiar with one another having played twice during the regular season.

The third matchup will be of mammoth proportions when top-seeded Glendale (21-6) takes on second-seeded Los Altos (21-10) in the CIF Southern Section Division V title match at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine.

“It’s always good to play somebody you know,” Glendale senior utility player Arman Momdzhyan said. “That way you know their strengths and weaknesses.

“We know they have a lot of great players. You go in with a strategy and be ready to stick to it.”

The Nitros will make their second straight appearance in the championship match. They are seeking their first CIF championship. If the Nitros prevail, it will be the school’s first CIF team championship since 1989, when the boys’ volleyball team won a Division III-A title against Harvard-Westlake.

Los Altos, which finished first in the Hacienda League, will return to the title match for the first time since 2003 and is seeking its first crown since 1996.

Glendale, which won the Pacific League championship for the third season in a row, posted an 18-16 victory against Los Altos in the third-place match of the third annual Conquer Classic at Los Altos on Sept. 21. The Nitros then registered a 12-11 nonleague win against the host Conquerors on Oct. 25.

Glendale jumped out to big leads in the first half in each match before holding off late comeback bids by Los Altos.

“We got off to those quick starts and they came back on us in the second half,” said fifth-year Glendale Coach Forest Holbrook, whose team reached the championship game with a 16-12 win against Walnut on Wednesday at Mount San Antonio College. “This will be another test to see how we can handle their pressure in a big game.

“It going to come down to who can finish when they have the opportunity to score. It will be a very exciting game. The teams know each other and what the other likes to do.”

The Nitros are led by Momdzhyan, Manuk Piloyan and Artak Arzumanyan. All three have played large roles in helping Glendale earn playoff wins against California, Webb and Walnut. Against Walnut, Momdzhyan finished with five goals. Arzumanyan and Piloyan added four and three goals, respectively.

Los Altos knocked off defending champion Pasadena Poly, 11-7, to move into the title match. The Conquerors will look to counter Glendale’s elite trio with a formidable trio of utility player Justin Contreras (140 goals), driver Matt Perez (104 goals) and hole/guard George Millard, all of whom scored three goals apiece against Pasadena Poly.

“Those three are the backbone of our team,” said Los Altos co-Coach Chris Coleman, who splits the coaching responsibilities with Bobby Contreras. “They all work together well.

“We did an awesome job to beat Pasadena Poly. We were able to control the play, especially in the second half. Glendale is a different type of team in that they can score a lot of goals quickly. We played them twice and lost two close games. We will be prepared for them and we are excited about getting to play Saturday.”

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