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KINGSBURG - Repeating as Valley champions isn’t out of the question for the Kingsburg girls water polo team heading into the 2018 season.

With the majority of last year’s squad returning, Kingsburg third-year head coach Emily Dewey said she expects her team to have similar results at the end of this season.

“This is still a strong team,” Dewey said. “We did lose some really great seniors that we will miss a lot, but we also have great experience. I feel like those seniors helped prepare these girls for this upcoming season.”

Last season, the Vikings finished 21-4 overall and had an undefeated 9-0 record in Central Sequoia League play. In the CIF Central Section Division III playoffs, Kingsburg defeated Sierra Pacific 12-10 in the championship game as the top seed.

Five seniors from last year’s team graduated including Bridgette Garcia and Brighton Kinney, who were two of last season’s key players for the Vikings. Garcia was the team’s leading scorer with 63 goals and Kinney had 207 saves as the team’s goalie last season.

Mikayla Vierra, who was Kinney’s backup last year, is expected to play goalie this season.

“I’m not worried about filling her shoes,” Vierra said. “I got to play with her in club [ball], so we got the same training. I think I’ll be able to somewhat do whatever she was doing.”

Vierra, a sophomore, didn’t receive much playing time as a goalie, but played a role as a utility player with 35 scores for Kingsburg.

Dewey said Vierra could split time between goalie and other positions this season.

“We kind of already talked about [her playing] two quarters of the game at the goal, two out in the field,” Dewey said.

Sofia Righetti, a sophomore, was another key contributor for the Vikings last season scoring 60 goals as a freshman, which was good for second-best on the team.

Righetti said she’s not worried about stepping up into a bigger role with Garcia gone.

“Me and Bridgette are pretty similar people,” Righetti said. “My personality will fill the role of being the leader pretty well also.”

Last season, Kingsburg won a CSL title with its 9-0 record and outscored its league opponents 120-25. With the addition of Hanford West in the CSL this year, the Vikings will play two extra league games this season.

Dewey said Hanford West is a good addition to the league.

“It’s nice to have a little extra competition, an extra team to play,” Dewey said.

The Kingsburg girls will begin the 2018 campaign at home against Reedley High School on Aug. 14. Two days later the Vikings will take on Lemoore High School at home. Both games are scheduled for a 6 p.m. start time. The boys water polo team will take on the same schools on the same dates, which are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

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Jeremiah Martinez can be reached at 559-583-2413 or jmartinez@hanfordsentinel.com

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