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Kelly Yoder excelled at goalkeeper during her first season with Ceres High's varsity girls water polo team last year.

The 5-foot-10 standout tallied more than 10 blocks per game in leading the Bulldogs to a respectable fourth-place finish in the Modesto Metro Conference standings (7-7). She received second-team, all-league honors for her efforts in the pool as Ceres High more than tripled its win total from the previous season (2-12).

"The girls really look up to her," head coach Lesley Willems said. "She's a great player. She's a hard worker. She's very competitive. That's why she's so good. It's nice having her in the cage. I don't think I'd feel comfortable with anyone else."

Yoder led Ceres High's frosh-soph team to a 17-7 overall record and second-place finish in the MMC at 7-3 behind undefeated Johansen in 2006.

"She picked up the game so fast," Willems said.

Yoder (senior) returns for the 2008 season along with Sarah Walters (senior), Kim Chambers (senior), Aimee Bautista (senior), Devyn Dollard (senior), Priscilla Acosta (junior), Salleen Navarez (junior) and Mariah Martin (junior).

Leanna McConnell (senior), Kayla Gilmore (junior) and Cristina Carrillo (junior) are also on the team.

The Bulldogs lost five members to graduation, including leading scorer Laura Goblirsch (35 goals), Jayme Westbrook, Ashleigh Gresham, Myranda Aguilera and Tori Escobar.

Utility player Brittany Lusk, who was also a standout basketball player, diver and track and field athlete, moved back to Oregon.

"It's rough not having her (Brittany) and the seniors that graduated," Willems said. "But a lot of the other schools lost players too."

Ceres High has never qualified for the Sac-Joaquin Section Playoffs in its 11-year history.

The Bulldogs must finish in the top three in the MMC standings to end the streak.

"Anything's possible," Willems said. "They have to want it. I can't play for them. I'm here to guide them in that direction."

The Bulldogs came close to making history in 2005 and 2004. They entered the final day of those seasons needing a win to clinch a playoff berth. Grace Davis played spoiler each time.