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CHS boys, girls teams vying for postseason berths
Ceres High School's varsity boys water polo team finished the 2009 season on a positive note by winning three of its final four matches.

The Bulldogs believe the momentum will carry over to this year.

"We got a lot of experience," said Nick Serratos, Ceres High's top returning player.

Serratos (Sr.), and fellow returnees Victor Cruz (Sr.), Kody Fliflet (Sr.), Mark Dollard (Sr.), Kenny Carroll (Sr.), Zachary Zamaroni (Jr.), Dylan Hines (Jr.) and Jason Stanhope (Jr.) helped lead the Bulldogs to a fifth-place finish in the Modesto Metro Conference standings (6-8) in 2009.

Nick led Ceres High in scoring with 140 goals and earned second-team, all-league honors as a junior. He suited up for the Modesto-Stanislaus 18-and-under squad during the summer and winter seasons.

The Bulldogs have a handful of first-year players this year, including Bobby Bahia (Sr.), J.T. Verdugo (So.), Andrew Yoder (Fr.) and Jordan Raabe (Fr.).

Serratos and his Ceres High teammates stayed busy over the summer. Training consisted of lifting weights, running and swimming.

"Winning league and making playoffs are our goals," said Cruz, an MMC honorable-mention selection a season ago. "If everyone keeps putting in the work, we definitely have a shot at both. Everybody has to step up."

The Bulldogs' last playoff appearance and winning season came in 2005. Ceres High compiled a 7-5 record and placed third in conference play.

Senior trio will lead girls team

Ceres High's girls team will rely heavily upon Courtney Frampton, Allison Ghimenti and Courtney Craig this year.

The trio played with the Modesto-Stanislaus water polo club during the offseason.

"I think it's going to help a lot," said Frampton, who competed at the Jr. Olympics and California State Games. "We can take what we learned over the summer and teach the other girls."

"I expect a lot out of those seniors," Bulldogs head coach Lesley Willems said. "They've been playing for four years."

Frampton tallied more than 100 goals last season. She earned second-team, all-MMC accolades.

Rebecca Wright (Sr.), Kristi Hopkins (Sr.), Amanda Kelley (Sr.), Megan Braverman (Jr.) and Haley Fisicaro (So.) gained valuable experience at the varsity level last season.

Cassidy Hines (Fr.) and Katie Rose (Fr.) are newcomers.

Priscilla Acosta, Salleen Narvaez and Mariah Martin were lost to graduation.

"I'd be ecstatic if we made playoffs," Willems said. "But I wouldn't be disappointed if we didn't. We have a brand-new team. The program is still building."

Ceres High had a successful 2009 campaign. The Bulldogs finished in fourth place in the MMC standings with a program-best 8-6 record.

Ceres High has never qualified for the postseason during its 14-plus years of existence.

"It would mean so much to be the first girls water polo team to make playoffs," Frampton said. "I think it's a realistic goal. We came so close to making it last year."

The Bulldogs fielded their first-ever water polo team in 1996.

League realignment

The Bulldogs were members of the MMC from 2004-09.

Ceres High, Sonora, Oakdale, Central Catholic, Los Banos, Pacheco and Kimball will compete in the newly-formed Valley Foothill Conference this season.

"We have a shot at going undefeated in league," Serratos said. "The only team that could give us problems is Sonora. They're fast."

Added Willems: "It's going to be an interesting year."