The Sierra College women’s water polo team split a pair of games in the preliminary round at the state championship tournament before falling in the third place game last Saturday. The Lady Wolverines lost a tough 5-3 battle with the south’s No. 2 seed, Long Beach Community College as Ariel Noriega tossed home a pair of goals. In their second match, the top seed from the north bested No. 3 Modesto Junior College 7-4 to earn a spot in the third place final against the powerful Riverside team. Sierra lost that final contest 16-8 to finish fourth in the state. Michelle Berrios scored three times against Riverside, and Kelsey Carrigan added a pair of goals. The trip to the state finals at Golden West College in Huntington Beach was earned after an impressive showing at the regional finals. After a four-year hiatus the Lady Wolverines regained what they have won more than any other women’s water polo team in Northern California history, their sixth regional women’s water polo championship, as they defeated the Foothill Owls 11-4 in the championship game. The road to the finals was not easy as the Lady Wolverines had to face Big 8 nemesis Santa Rosa to get to the finals. After defeating the Bearcubs twice earlier in the season, including in the Big 8 Conference tournament championship game, the Lady Wolverines had to scratch and claw their way through this time. Sierra was able to defeat the Bearcubs for a third consecutive time, 8-6, to advance to the NorCal championship game. Leading the way for the Wolverines Noriega and Berrios, a pair of sophomores, with three goals each. Sophomore defensive stopper Malina Lorring scored one goal, and added four assists and four steals. Not to be outdone by their teammates, Carrigan, a freshman, added a goal and two steals and sophomore Julie Maginnis had two assists and three steals to help the Wolverine cause. Back from illness last week, freshman goalkeeper Tori Cliff had six blocks in the victory. After splitting games during the regular season with the Foothill Owls, the Lady Wolverines came out strong in the Northern California final. After a fast paced first quarter in which the teams scored on the first five possessions, Sierra’s defense took over and put the clamps on the Owls offense in route to an 11-4 victory. Once again leading the charge was All-American Noriega, who had four goals, Berrios with two goals, three assists, and six steals, and Lorring with one goal, one assist and four steals. Jordan Pare, Meagan Ballew, Carrigan and Sara Roeder each kicked in with a goal a piece. Cliff was outstanding in the goal again as she had 11 blocks to help lead the Lady Wolverines to the title.