Winless through its first four matches of the 2014 Western Athletic Conference season, Ceres High varsity girls water polo head coach Stephen Dias encouraged open dialogue at practice leading up to last week's showdown with Pacheco.
The Bulldogs responded by turning in their most-impressive performance of the year, winning 15-7 over the visiting Panthers on Thursday.
"Our sprit changed since yesterday," Ceres High junior standout Annie Connors said. "There was a lot of tension because of losing. We cleared the air. We learned how to communicate and not get mad."
Connors and Kaitlyn Foster scored a team-high four goals apiece for the Bulldogs, who avenged an 8-6 loss and improved to 1-4 in the WAC standings.
Julia Pata and Anna Rogers tallied three goals each.
"I'm just glad we finally won," Connors said. "It feels really good. The talent has always been there. We're all good individually. We couldn't combine it all as a team until today."
Ceres High imposed its will in the opening four minutes. The Bulldogs built a 5-0 lead as Foster and Pata each scored two goals. Rogers contributed one goal.
"Honestly, I couldn't believe it," Connors said. "We played like a team. We didn't last time. We just have to keep working as a team. Hopefully, we're going to stay on this path. I think we will. We really want to make playoffs."
Campbell provides boost
Tim Campbell received devastating news two days before the start of WAC play earlier this month.
The Ceres High varsity boys water polo standout thought he suffered a season-ending injury after X-rays revealed a hairline fracture in his right elbow.
"I was bummed," Campbell said. "I was told I wasn't going to be able to play. I went to a specialist. He cleared me to play after some rest and ice."
Campbell made his season debut with the Bulldogs this past week.
"My teammates are happy for me," he said.
Tim totaled seven goals in Ceres High's 19-11 victory over visiting Livingston on Oct. 14.
Cole Silva added four goals.
Zachary Jones and Bobby Baranski chipped in with three goals apiece.
"It's nice getting back in the pool and being able to play," Campbell said.
Campbell set up other teammates and played defense while competing for a half during host Ceres High's 14-6 win against Pacheco on Thursday.
Jones tallied eight goals.
Baranski and Erik Weststeyn scored three and two goals, respectively.
Fernando Olmos had one goal.
"It sucked not being able to do what I normally do, which is shoot," Campbell said. "It's a healing process. It's much better. I can't do any more damage to it. The pain tolerance is up to me."