Rockford Rams women’s water polo off to strong start

Rockford is well-known throughout Michigan and beyond for having exceptional water polo teams year after year. With both men’s and women’s state championship title banners hanging in the Rockford natatorium, this can be daunting to opposing teams, while motivating Rockford coaches and players to continue to rebuild when talented seniors graduate. The 2010 women’s water polo team under new Head Coach Scott Voltz knows this scenario well. This year’s seniors and juniors experienced the thrill of winning the 2008 state championship team, and battling back last year as they rebuilt with younger players. As the 2010 season unfolds, both coaches and players are excited for the challenges that lie ahead.

If the opening games are any indication, both the varsity and JV squads show much promise. On March 26-27, Coach Voltz and JV Coach Katie Clarin traveled to Ann Arbor with 17 players for the Early Bird Tournament and came home 2-2, defeating last year’s state champion Ann Arbor Pioneer 4-2 and Birmingham Seaholm 8-7. The Lady Rams lost a back-and-forth battle with Troy, 6-7, in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, and hung with state favorite Okemos for most of the first half in the final weekend game, losing 3-8.

Following the four-game Ann Arbor tournament, Coach Voltz noted, “We have a great group of girls who have an obvious love for the game and desire to get better. If we continue to work together and improve as a team, we have an enormous potential for success.”

On Tuesday, March 30, the Rams took on Grand Haven in their home opener, with both the JV and varsity teams dominating. Varsity won 10-4, with scoring from Wolfer (four goals/one assist), Gremel (three goals/one assist), Weston (two goals), and Beeg (one goal). Goalie Tiffany Elenbaas was strong with 13 saves, one assist and two steals. Senior Holly Nauta and junior Emily Williams also contributed with one assist each. The team was strong on defensive, collectively racking up 18 steals.

The JV squad beat the Buccaneers 14-3, with sophomore sisters Alaina and Sarah Smith and Julia Ceglowski each scoring two goals. Adrianna Craft, Marie Siegel, Abbey Finlayson, Amanda Mull, Maddie Levine, Sarah Karamol, Morgan Longberg, and Kelley Lipe also each scored a goal. Goalie Elli Raymond had nine saves and one assist.

The Lady Rams will return from spring break to face a very tough road schedule, traveling to West Ottawa April 13, Holland April 15, and to Jenison for a two-day tournament April 16-17.

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