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Fletcher, Lions in NCAAs


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POSTED: Friday, May 01, 2009

Before Kellen Fletcher graduates from Loyola Marymount, she's got one last long-distance trip to take.

               

     

 

KELLEN FLETCHER

        » School: Loyola Marymount
       

» Year: Senior

       

» Height: 5-foot-11

       

» Position: Utility

       

» Alma mater: Punahou '05

       

» Career stats: 17 goals, 14 assists, 45 steals in 95 games played

       

» Notables: Born in Newark, Del.; mother played volleyball and father played lacrosse in college; sister Katie is a sophomore on the water polo team; majoring in sociology

       

 

       

Fletcher and her LMU women's water polo teammates will head to College Park, Md., to compete in the NCAA championships May 8-10 after defeating Santa Clara last Sunday to win the Western Water Polo Association tournament.

The Lions earned the league's automatic bid into the eight-team field, marking the second time in her four-year career that Fletcher, a 2005 Punahou graduate, will play in the NCAA tournament.

“;Of course our goal was to accomplish winning our conference and going on to the NCAAs,”; Fletcher said. “;Achieving that goal is exciting, but now we have new goals. We want to win in the first round and go on to do really well.”;

The fifth-seeded Lions will face No. 4 seed Hawaii in the opening round May 8 at 1:45 p.m. The two teams met once this year at a tournament LSU hosted. The Rainbow Wahine handed the Lions their first home less of the season, winning 8-7 as they scored in the final 2 minutes to squeeze out the win.

“;I'm definitely excited to play them because it was close when we played the first time and I think we have gotten a lot better since then,”; Fletcher said.

Fletcher's father is a professor at Hawaii, but she has faith he'll be cheering for the right team.

“;He's gotta represent for his daughter,”; Fletcher.

In fact, it'll be for both of his daughters. Kellen's sister, Katie, is a sophomore on the team. She also graduated from Punahou and jumped at the chance to play water polo and go to school at the same place as her older sister.

“;She makes it a lot easier to be away from home,”; Kellen said.

Rounding out the Punahou trio on the team is sophomore Sasha Fuller.

“;I think we're all pumped to play Hawaii,”; Kellen said.

While the other two have found it tough to find playing time in their sophomore seasons, Kellen has played in 24 of the team's 31 games and scored three goals and dished out four assists.

LMU (24-7) won 12 of its last 14 games after the loss to Hawaii and enters the NCAA tournament with a lot of confidence after rolling through its conference tournament to win its seventh league title overall.

“;We have great team chemistry that has really carried us so far because we don't let anything get us down,”; Fletcher said. “;We've played teams like UCLA and USC really tough and we know with how we've improved over the season that we can go in there and beat any of the teams we play.”;

This year is only the second time the NCAA tournament has been held outside the state of California.

In 2005, when Hawaii qualified for NCAAs for the first time in school history, the tournament was played in Michigan.

The Lions played in that same pool two years ago in one of the most memorable trips of Fletcher's career.

“;It actually started snowing in the middle of the night and one of the girls woke us all up and we went outside to play in it,”; Fletcher said. “;Then the next day we're playing water polo in an indoor pool. It was a crazy time.”;

This will be LMU's seventh trip to the NCAA tournament in nine years. Its best finish came in 2004 when the Lions lost in the title game.

Getting back to the final is a goal Fletcher thinks isn't out of reach.

“;You've got to have big goals and we're not happy with just getting there,”; Fletcher said. “;We want to win the first game and go from there and do really well.”;

 

NOTABLE

Women's Tennis

» DePauw (Ind.) sophomore Janelle Arita (Punahou '07) won both her No. 1 singles and No. 2 doubles matches to lead the 12th-ranked Tigers to a 9-0 victory over No. 22 Trinity University to win their second straight Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference championship on Sunday in North Little Rock, Ark.

Arita won her singles match 6-0, 7-5 and took her doubles match by an 8-2 score. The Tigers advance to the NCAA Division III championship and will find out their seed on Monday.

 

Women's Golf

» UCLA freshman Stephanie Kono (Punahou '08) finished in a tie for 12th place with a seven-over 220 at the Pac-10 championships that ended Sunday in Stanford, Calif. Cardinal senior Mari Chun (Kamehameha '05) entered the final day in seventh place, but shot a final-round 81 to tie for 24th place at 12-over 225. Arizona senior Amanda Wilson (Waiakea '05) tied for 31st at 14-over 227 and Oregon State freshman Elyse Okada (Maui '08) tied for 40th at 237.

» Willamette (Ore.) senior Whitney Ueno (Hilo '05) tied for second place at the Northwest Conference championships in Yakima, Wash., on Sunday. Ueno's final-round 79 left her one shot behind the winner. Puget Sound sophomore Natalie Nakamine (Roosevelt '07) tied for fifth and Pacific (Ore.) sophomore Valerie Kitamori (Waiakea '07) was a shot back in seventh. The Boxers got an 11th-place finish out of junior Jasmine Ching (Waiakea '06), and sophomore Tami Park (Waiakea '07) finished in 25th place.

 

Women's Water Polo

» Stanford sophomore goalkeeper Kim Hall (Punahou '07) had five saves in a 13-6 win to lead the second-seeded Cardinal to a 13-6 win over No. 7 seed San Diego State last Friday in the quarterfinals of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament at Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex. The Cardinal lost in the championship game and earned an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament, where they will be the No. 2 seed.

» Occidental (Calif.) sophomore Karie Nickle (Kamehameha '07) had a goal and two assists as the Tigers defeated Redlands (Calif.) 6-5 on Sunday to win the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship and earn a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.

» Pacific (Calif.) sophomore Dara Tawarahara ('Iolani '07) scored five goals in a 14-8 loss to Santa Barbara in the first round of the Big West Conference tournament Friday in Stockton, Calif.