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Veteran-heavy Turlock girls polo ready to compete
Girls Polo 1
Nicole Groteguth returns for the Bulldogs of Turlock High and is expected to be a key contributor in the upcoming year. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal

The 2016 season brought much success to the Turlock High girls water polo program that included a playoff berth, and now a year wiser, this year's squad is hungrier for more.

With a bulk of the team returning, the 'Dogs are set for a season of high expectations and goals.

Despite an always competitive Central California Conference, the Bulldog squad and co-varsity coach Anne Cornell have their eyes set on a possible league title, besting their finish from a year ago.

“A big portion of our team is coming back,” said Cornell. “It's good because they contributed, they know the mental side they need to put into it as well…We have to work with each other, not just one who is leading, there are seven kids in the water and they all know that as well.”

Turlock capped off the year with a 6-6 CCC posting, earning a spot in the Division-I Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. Unfortunately, they fell to Granite Bay 9-2 in the opening round.

“They would like to do well again this year and place top two in league, and that will come from practicing and strengths, but we have to put everything together,” said Cornell. “They know they need to work really hard in order to win league.”

The Bulldogs will be anchored by three experienced returners in Allison Serratos, Nicole Groteguth and Caitlin Cornell.

All three competed in a summer team and are hoping to showcase their growth with Serratos, a four-year varsity player, anchoring the squad.

“They will lead the team,” said Cornell. “The three who played summer ball are very hungry and would like to make it past the first round of playoffs, and they know what they can do and should rely on their goals.”

Along with these three will be a herd of strong swimmers, according to Cornell.

Turlock will also look to the help of Kelly Weber and Jacqueline Vierra, with the addition of the 10 seniors on this year's roster.

“We have strong swimmers who could move up and we have a well-rounded defensive team as well,” she said. “We can move kids around in different spots and positions and it will be a strength to be able to move kids around. Balancing how we play and we have to adjust and play together as a team.”

Turlock will host their Alumni Game prior to the start of the season at 2 p.m. Aug. 19.