Cal State Bakersfield head coach Jason Gall answered a few questions and it is nice to hear him be honest about saying his goal is to win the WWPA and head to the NCAA championships. So far on the season CSUB is 4-6 and ranked No. 20 in the latest CWPA poll.
Gall also talks about their move to the MPSF next season.
1. What expectations do you have this year for your team?
Every year we have the expectation to be the #1 team in our conference. We want to make sure that we improve from game to game and be able to learn from our mistakes as we go through the season.
2. What are the strengths of your team?
We return our entire starting line up from last year. We are solid in the cage with both Megan Pezzolla (JR) and Alex Bayer (FR). We have Jessica Browning (JR) who is an Honorable mention All-American from last year. The team works hard and is motivated to push themselves to be the best they can be.
3. What would qualify to you as a successful season this year?
Winning the WWPA Championship tournament. Although we will celebrate victories and successes along the way, ultimately we want to go to win our conference and go to NCAA's.
4. Can you tell me about your incoming freshman for this year and how they will fit into the team this year?
Alex Bayer- Goalie. We know that Alex would challenge 3 year starter Megan Pezzolla for playing time at some point but we are pleasantly surprised that it is happening so fast. Alex is explosive in the cage and is a fierce competitor. Regardless of when Alex becomes a starting goal keeper, she is making all of her teammates better on a daily basis with each practice.
Janelle Shelby- Utility. Janelle has all the tools to become a dominant DI water polo player. She has speed, length, creativity and hustle. We are working on getting stronger and developing more consistency with her shooting. Janelle will be asked to play different roles as we go through the season so we are working on getting her comfortable in all areas of the pool.
5. What players do you think could have a breakout year?
It's hard to pick one or two players because I see improvement in all of the athletes from last year. We already touched on our goalie situation and I feel that will be one of our biggest strengths this year. I expect both Megan and Alex to be fantastic this year.
Jessica Browning has continued to develop not only as a center but as a center defender that can also shoot from the perimeter. She will no doubt have a phenomenal year. Taylor Hanson, who was our leading scorer last year as a freshman will continue to pace us on offense both on the counter attack and with her perimeter shooting. Our Center defender, Sam Shead, may not get a lot of recognition on the score board but she has really evolved into a defender that can match up with almost any center out there.
6. I know this is far off, but how will the move to the MPSF next year affect your team?
I think that there is still the perception out there that CSU Bakersfield is a DII program. The University became a full Division I member in the summer of 2010 and since then, all of our athletic teams have been looking to get into the top conferences of their respective sports. We have obviously done that with water polo, starting next year and it should send a message to the water polo community that CSUB is looking to compete at the highest level possible. We have set the bar high and the athletes are excited about the challenges and opportunities that going to the MPSF presents. While the current athletes that we have know that we need to continue to improve, the coaching staff will also be looking to recruit the best possible athletes that will help us to compete with the top teams in the country.