The University of Hawai’i water polo team, fresh off the plane from San Diego, Calif. learned that they were the No. 6 seed in the 2021 NCAA Women’s Water Polo Championship tournament. The Wahine will face the No. 3 seeded UCLA Bruins, who also play as host to the 2021 tournament.
Hawai’i, who came back from being down 5-2 to UC Irvine in the Big West Championship match but came back to win 9-8 on Saturday faces the seven-time champion Bruins at 3 p.m. HT on May 14 in Los Angeles, Calif. Although UCLA has won seven national titles, the Bruins have not won a title since 2009 and but last made it to the NCAA Final in 2017.
The Bruins fell in the MPSF Tournament semifinals to Stanford before beating Arizona State in the 3rd place game.
Sophomore Emma van Rossum was named the 2021 Big West Women’s Water Polo Championship Most Valuable Player. Van Rossum totaled three goals and one assist through the entire tournament. Most importantly, her consistency and leadership in and out of the pool led the team to a victorious championship run.
The Rainbow Wahine earned their second consecutive and fourth Big West Championship title in program history to earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. In 2019, second-seeded Hawai’i captured its third Big West Championship in school history after toppling top-seeded UCI 7-6 in Long Beach, California.
Hawai’i is led by Big West Freshman of the Year Lucia Gomez de la Puente who leads the Wahine with 21 goals and 20 assists. Gomez de la Puente was also named to the All-Big West First Team with junior Carmen Baringo who led the team with 27 steals, 22 defensive exclusions drawn and 17 field blocks. Baringo added eight goals and four assists over the season.