After Not Playing, Burbank, Burroughs Girls Water Polo Are Eager

The Bears and Bulldogs are looking to make a dent in the Pacific League race.

The Burbank and Burroughs girls' water polo teams are excited to be playing this season and look to make a charge for the Pacific League crown. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

By Rick Assad

Every time that the Burbank High and Burroughs girls’ water polo teams jump into the pool it will be an exciting and positive step because last season was scratched due to the coronavirus.

Still Melani Aghazarian, the Burbank coach and Jacob Cook, the Burroughs head man, feel good about their respective squads.

“I’m really looking forward to this season. The girls haven’t played since before the pandemic, so this is going to be a great learning year,” Aghazarian said.

The Bulldogs starters include senior goalie Rachel Tomasek, senior utility Vana Matevosian, senior two-meter Klaris Zarukian, senior attacker Paige Huleis, senior guard/two-meter Julie Kim, junior utility/goalie Valentina Angel and junior attacker Makalya Kelley.

The rest of the team consists of senior utility Vanessa Abelyan, senior attacker Sarah Shabhandaryan, senior attacker Anahit Khamtrashyan, junior utility Melanie Mazariegos, junior two-meter Mary Najaryan and junior utility Rebecca Zakarian.

Even though there are several seniors on the team, they are still getting their feet wet and gaining experience.

“Many of these girls are first or second-year water polo players, so I’m really excited to see their growth as the season progresses,” Aghazarian said. “As far as league goes, I don’t know what to expect, but we’re going to do our best as always and be as prepared as we can be.”

Aghazarian spotlighted a few key players. “Julie Kim has been a standout player since her sophomore year and that hasn’t changed,” she said. “She’s a great leader and is going to make her presence in the pool known.”

Aghazarian spoke about Matevosian. “Vana is a true utility who I’m excited to see more of what she can do and the leadership she will bring to the team as games get more competitive and her role on the team becomes more evident,” she noted.

Aghazarian also addressed the two juniors. “Makala and Valentina have so much potential,” she said. “As it’s their first year on the varsity, it’s going to be an adjustment for them as the level of play speeds up, but I think they’re really going to improve immensely in a short period of time.”

Meanwhile, Cook’s team includes Nancy Baylor, Olivia de Fabry, Mindy Hernandez, Kelly Long, Isabella Medina, Makenna Palamara, Clarissa Robles, Kelly Volpe and Ava Tomlinson.

“We are excited to play this year after having to take last year off,” Cook said. “We have a small team but have a lot of talent to work with.”

Cook spoke about the Pacific League chase. “We always shoot to be the best in the league and have been working hard to make sure we do well this season,” he said.