SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara women's water polo program, under the new leadership of head coach Cathy Neushul, has signed seven student-athletes to National Letters of Intent during the fall signing period.
Marley Delaney (Long Beach, Calif./Los Alamitos HS), Michelle Dunn (San Jose, Calif./Pioneer HS), Bryn Hudson (Tualatin, Oregon/Tualatin HS), Samantha Murphy (San Jose, Calif./Leland HS), Holly Smith (Fullerton, Calif./Troy HS), Jessie Porter (Tustin, Calif./Foothill HS) and Debby Tickenoff (Fontana, Calif./Los Osos HS) are expected to join the Gauchos for the 2013 season.
"Our 2012 recruiting class is an outstanding group of individuals and just an all-around skilled class," Neushul said. "These girls are not only experienced water polo players, but also individuals with high integrity. The future of Gaucho water polo is very bright in the hands of these capable young student-athletes."
Marley Delaney is an attacker that hails from Los Alamitos High School where she has helped lead the Griffins to the 2011 Sunset League Title, the 2009 and 2011 CIF Quarterfinals, and the 2010 CIF Semifinals. She is a 2011 All-Sunset League Second Team pick. Delaney plays club with SoCal Water Polo, which she helped to a second-place finish at the 2009 Junior Olympics and a third-place finish in 2011.
"Marley not only plays for a top-notch club, but she is also a starter for one of the top high school programs in the nation," Neushul said. "She understands how to play water polo, which we know will help Marley develop into a high level Division I player."
Michelle Dunn is a utility player and currently plays at Pioneer High School. She is a three-time All-Blossom Valley Athletic League honoree, 2011 Central Coast Section Honorable Mention selection and was named the Mustangs' Most Valuable Player. She plays club for West Coast (formerly Ohlone Renegades). She is also a member of the National Honor Society, California Scholarship Federation and has earned All-Academic Team honors.
"Michelle enters UCSB as a gifted center and superb student-athlete," Neushul said. "What separates Michelle from the rest is her commitment level to sports and school. She has all the necessary skills and the work ethic to dominate at the center position in college, and to succeed in life."
Bryn Hudson hails from Tualatin High School in Oregon. The attacker is a two-time State MVP and Pac-9 Conference MVP. She is a four-time All-State and All-Pacific 9 First Team selection, and a three-time team MVP for the Timberwolves. She helped lead her team to consecutive State Championships and three Pac-9 Championships. Hudson competes with Tualatin Hills Water Polo Club.
"Bryn is the speedy, quick, offensive-minded, left-handed player that has been lacking from the UCSB lineup for quite some time," Neushul said. "Having led her high school team to two-straight State titles, Bryn has the championship level experience, which is so valuable at the collegiate level. We look forward to Bryn filling the gap on the left-handed side of the pool."
Samantha Murphy comes to UCSB from Leland High School where she helped lead the Chargers to the 2011 Central Coast Section title and three Blossom Valley Athletic League titles. She was named the Central Coast Section Division I MVP and named Player of the Year by Mercury News. Additionally, she is an Honorable Mention All-American, All-CCS First Team honoree, the 2010 BVAL MVP, and 2010 All-Mercury News First Team pick. She currently plays for NorCal Water Polo Club. Additionally, she has earned Academic All-American honors.
"There is virtually no position Sam will not play for us next season," Neushul said. "She is big, fast, can shoot the lights out of the ball, and is an excellent defender. There is not much more you can ask for in a player. I have no doubt Sam will make an immediate impact on our program."
Jessie Porter is a utility player out of Foothill High School where she has helped the Knights to three-consecutive league titles and a 2011 CIF Finals appearance. She is a three-time All-League First Team selection and All-CIF honoree. She also plays with SoCal Water Polo Club, with which she has earned All-American honors.
"Jessie comes to us with a resume beyond compare," Neushul said. "She plays in the hotbed of water polo with the top club in the country and for Foothill High School. As a result, Jessie has demonstrated not only excellent fundamentals of the game, but a wealth of championship experience. She flat out knows what it takes to win. We will rely on Jessie's superior shooting skills to lead us offensively for years to come."
Holly Smith is a utility player out of Troy High School. She is a two-time All-CIF Division IV Second Team selection and two-time All-Freeway League First Team honoree. She helped lead the Warriors to the 2011 CIF Quarterfinals, the 2010 CIF Semifinals and to the 2011 Freeway League Championship. She also competes with Huntington Beach Water Polo Club with which she won the 2011 Junior Olympics and took second at the 2011 U.S. Club Championships.
"Holly has played a tremendous amount of high level water polo," Neushul said. "As a result, she understands the aggressive nature of the game. We expect her to raise the level of our practices and play right away upon her arrival."
Debby Tickenoff comes to UCSB from Los Osos High School. She has helped the Grizzlies to three Baseline League Championships and three CIF Division V finals appearances; winning the CIF title in 2009. She is an All-American Second Team honoree, All-Baseline League First Team pick and an All-CIF Second Team recipient. Tickenoff also plays for Chino Hills Area Water Polo (CHAWP).
"Debbie is a gifted all-around player," Neushul said. "She brings an excellent shooting arm and knowledge of water polo from her time playing with CHAWP. We will count on her to score many goals next season."
UCSB women's water polo will open its 2012 campaign on January 18.