Stockton, Calif. - For the first time in program history, the Pacific men's water polo team is ranked No. 1 in the country. The No. 1 ranked Pacific men's water polo team hits the road for MPSF games at No. 7 Pepperdine (Friday, 3:00pm) and No. 6 UC Santa Barbara (Sunday, noon). Friday's game at Pepperdine will be streamed live online.
"It's amazing," head coach James Graham said. "It feels great to be recognized, and I think it means a lot to our team, our program, our University and our community. It's a testament to all the hard work our student-athletes have put in towards being successful. At the same time, being ranked No. 1 doesn't change anything for this team. We have to prove ourselves every single game. Our goal all year has been to play our best water polo of the season in our next game, and that doesn't change now. Not with two really good opponents coming up this weekend."
This week's poll marks the first time any Pacific program has been ranked No. 1 since 1999, when the Tigers' women's volleyball program topped the polls in the Sept. 27, 1999 edition. Pacific volleyball has been ranked first 18 times in the history of the AVCA Top 25, eighth-most among Division I programs.
The Tigers rank of No. 3 had been tied for the program high mark, also set in the 1993 season.
Pacific will look to avoid a let down after a win over then No. 1 USC last Saturday. Pacific controlled the game, with a 10-6 win at Chris Kjeldsen Pool. Senior goalkeeper Alex Malkis made 16 saves and was named MPSF Player of the Week following the win, while junior Alex Obert paced the Tigers offensively with three goals.
Pacific faces a Pepperdine squad that's 9-9 overall and 1-3 in MPSF play. The Tigers own a win over the Waves in the NorCal Tournament, taking a 21-6 victory in the third round on the consolation side of the bracket as the Tigers placed fifth. Senior Goran Tomasevic and sophomore Kristian Laczkovics each posted four goals for Pacific. Pepperdine was ranked No. 10 at the time of the contest.
On Sunday, Pacific faces a No. 6 UC Santa Barbara squad which has pushed the Tigers twice. In the NorCal Tournament fifth-place game, Pacific held on for an 8-7 win over the Gauchos, and in the SoCal Tournament semifinals, the Tigers posted a 10-8 win.
The Tigers sit tied for first in the MPSF at 3-1 in conference, along with No. 2 UCLA and No. 4 Stanford. Pacific has a win over Stanford in MPSF action, but their lone MPSF loss is to the Bruins. UCLA's MPSF loss is to Stanford. USC, tied at No. 2 with UCLA, sits a half-game back at 2-1.
With UCLA and Stanford both yet to play the Trojans, the Tigers need a pair of victories to tighten their grip on the top spot in the conference and the number one seed at the MPSF Conference Tournament, which will be held at Pacific's Chris Kjeldsen Pool November 29-December 1.