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Bulldog goalie Camryn Elness wins WAC MVP award
Ceres High varsity girls water polo goalkeeper Camryn Elness accomplished a first in program history by being voted Most Valuable Player in league play this fall. She was named WAC MVP on Oct. 30. - photo by Photo courtesy of Anthony Gerads

Ceres High varsity girls water polo standout Camryn Elness accomplished a first in program history by being named Most Valuable Player in league play.

The 6-foot-tall senior goalkeeper was voted MVP at the Western Athletic Conference year-end coaches meetings on Oct. 30 in Hilmar.

"It was definitely a surprise and one of my greatest achievements in my athletic career," Elness said. "I never thought I would reach that level. It's a really humbling moment for me."

"I'm not surprised," Bulldogs' head coach Stephen Dias said. "She deserved it. She was the best player in the league. She outshined everybody. She was amazing. I'm very proud of her."

Elness found out she won the WAC MVP award during her team's end-of-year banquet.

Dias passed on the news.

"I was in complete shock," Elness said. "My jaw dropped."

"She was pretty excited," Dias said. "She just about cried."

Five of Ceres High's seven starters earned WAC honors this fall, including Elness, Camryn Silva (Jr.), Emily Campidonica (Sr.), Noelia De Leon (Sr.) and Savannah Zielke (Sr.).

"I can't complain," Dias said. "It's an awesome thing."

The Bulldogs compiled a 14-5 overall record and finished in second place in the conference standings (7-2) for the second year in a row.

Ceres High also secured its second consecutive playoff berth.

"It really speaks to how great our coach is and how great the program he's running," Elness said. "He definitely makes the sport fun. But there are times when he has to crack down."

Elness totaled 140 blocks in 19 matches.

She earned first-team all-WAC honors as a junior.

"Being a goalie, you have to be a leader, stay focused the entire time and not let the pressure get to you," Elness said. "You can't be afraid of the ball. You're going to get hit in the face sometimes. Sportsmanship and leadership are just as important as athletic ability."

Silva was selected to the WAC First Team for the second straight year.

The southpaw led the Bulldogs in scoring with 81 goals.

"She put the ball where it needed to be," Dias said.

Campidonica, De Leon and Zielke garnered second-team all-conference recognition.

"They all had attributes that made them good players," Dias said. "Savannah had a powerhouse arm. Her shot was amazing. Noelia's a dynamite, all-round player. Even though Emily's small, she's a tough defender."

Dias received one vote for WAC Coach of the Year.

Los Banos' Bo Halpin (three votes) won the honor.

"Bo earned it," Dias said. "His team finished in first place. He outcoached me twice."