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Dogs water polo boys win; girls fall against Merced
turlock boys polo
Turlock senior Jacob Johnson gets ready to attempt a shot and strike the back of the net. Johnson finished Thursdays contest with three goals in the teams 14-10 win over Merced. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

One win, one loss. That was how both contests for Turlock High’s varsity water polo ended after Thursday’s Central California Conference matchup against the visiting Merced High squad.

The boys notched a 14-10 victory in a rather convincing fashion over the Bears, while the girls lost 9-5.

“Last year Merced were league champs so I feel we battled with them pretty well considering they have more seasoned veterans than we do,” Turlock girls head coach Sonja Raynes said. “We’re also looking forward to playing them again and we feel we know how to change things up for that time around.”

“It was a huge win. Coming into the year, they [Merced] were the top dogs in league and to put them away the way we did means a lot. Beating them how we did… helluva game,” said Turlock boys head coach Nick Serratos.

The boys are now 2-2 in the CCC heading into their crosstown rivalry matchup with Pitman.

It was a fast start from Merced who scored the first goal of the contest.

Turlock would rebuttal nicely and went on a 5-0 run to end the first quarter with a 5-1 lead.

Things would get wild in the second and by the end of the half the score read 8-4 in favor of Turlock.

When the third was just getting underway, Turlock went up 10-4 but Merced was not going to go down without a fight and they went on a 5-0 run of their own and the score was 10-9 when the third ended.

“We had a small break when we were up by one,” said Serratos. “I told the guys that they have worked so hard this year and things have not gone our way with some couple close losses, but we needed to put this away if we hope to have a good season.”

Turlock was able to keep their composure in the fourth and the offense would go on a 4-1 run to end their fourth league match with a win.

“I feel like this was the turning point to our year, especially after coming off two tough losses to Buhach and Atwater and it’s because we couldn’t put it away,” said Serratos. “This time we put this one away and it shows where the team is coming along and where we will be towards the end of the season.”

Sophomore Gabe Sleeper was the player of the game for the boys after recording 19 blocks/saves.

Seniors Zach Glidden and Jacob Johnson combined for eight of the teams goals.

Glidden finished with five and Johnson added three.

The girls’ squad had a tough start to their matchup against the Bears. Merced scored first and when the first half concluded, the score read 2-1 in favor of the Bears.

Both teams delivered scores back and forth in the third quarter and by the end of the quarter, Turlock was still in it with the defending CCC champs trailing again by only one, 6-5. 

“We battled back late but they [Merced] had a really good goalie but we were also heavy on the turnovers,” Raynes said.  “When you give the ball to the opposing team it will hurt you and that is mostly from our younger players. But I think we have progressed a lot since the beginning of the season.”

Merced would go on a 3-0 run in the fourth and their defense held on for the win and handed Turlock their second league loss in four contests to drop to 2-2 in the CCC.

Hannah Groteguth finished the contest with a team-high three goals.

“We had some mistakes and turnovers, which was big for us, lots of turnovers and they were able to counter on us and that was the difference, but I am proud of our girls, they battled,” Raynes added.

Turlock will host Pitman next week with the game set to begin at 4 p.m. Tuesday.