NCAA Champions Ink Eight New Women of Troy|
Nov. 17, 2016
After rolling undefeated through 2016, USC women’s water polo added another national championship to its trophy case last season. Now, the USC women add eight talented new Women of Troy to the program. The strong and sizable class of newcomers recently signed letters of intent to join the Trojans for the 2018 season, due to arrive at USC as freshmen in 2017-18, USC head coach Jovan Vavic has announced.
USC’s newest additions are: Verica Bakoc, Nina Ceklic, Sabrina Garabet, Paige Hauschild, Kari Jensen, Molly Leimbach, Randi Reinhardt and Sophie Traversi.
“One thing that describes this group is hardworking,” Vavic said of his bumper crop of newcomers. “They’re really a hard-nosed and hardworking group that wants to get better. With eight girls coming in, it’s a really excellent and versatile class. We have who I consider the top recruit in the nation in Paige, as well as two lefties, a center, a utility and several girls who are real soldier types. They’re all good kids and hardworking players."
Paige Hauschild comes to Troy from Santa Barbara, Calif., where she has already earned three All-CIF First Team selections out of San Marcos High. A member of the U.S. National Team, Hauschild is primed to shine as a Trojan.
“Paige is really a type of player that I think will play in the Olympics one day,” Vavic said of Hauschild. “She comes from a very athletic family, and her biggest strengths are her shooting and her speed. She’s what I call a ultimate team player — she’s all about about the team doing well, not about her own success. I think she’s extremely coachable and just a great teammate.”
Another Southern California product comes to Troy out of Glendora. A product of St. Lucy’s Priory High School. Sabrina Garabet is a left-handed sharpshooter who has been a U.S. Youth National Team member and was her league’s MVP as a junior as well as a two-time All-CIF second teamer.
“Sabrina is a very dangerous outside shooter, but she’s also an excellent passer,” Vavic said of Garabet. “She’s a grinder. She won’t back away from anybody. She’s tough, and she’s somebody we can use immediately.”
USC also welcomes to Canadian imports to the pool with the addition of Nina Ceklic and Verica Bakoc. Ceklic joins the Trojans from Calgary, where she hails from Henry Wise Wood High School. A member of Canada’s 17-Under, 18-Under and 19-Under National Teams, she recently got the call-up to the Senior National Team for Team Canada. A powerful two-meter defender, Ceklic helped Canada to gold at the 2016 Junior Pan American Championships.
“Nina is another player from an athletic family, and she’s probably one of the toughest girls that will never play for us,” Vavic said of Ceklic. "Her leg strength makes her one of the strongest players on the Canadian A team, and she also extra intelligent. I’m impressed with her quick learning and ability to make quick adjustments."
Another Canadian Senior National Team member, Verica Bakoc comes to Troy from Toronto, Ontario, attending Silverthorn Institute. A left-handed attacker, Bakoc also has been a key member of Canada’s Youth National teams, having participate at the 2016 FINA Youth World Championships. She’s been one of leading scorers in the 19-Under and 16-Under National League, and was the top scorer overall in the Club National Championship Finals.
“Verica is similar to Sabrina in the sense the she can shoot extraordinarily well,” Vavic said of Bakoc. “She’s a very good utility to have, because she's not just a scorer; she can also post up. She understands water polo really well as she’s been around the game all her life. She has a desire to be great, and she’ll be a impact player here at USC.”
Four of USC’s newest additions have family ties to Troy, with either a brother or a sister who has been active in the USC water polo program. A Northern California product, Kari Jensen follows in the footsteps of older sister Annika, who won an NCAA Championship with the Women of Troy last season. Kari Jensen hails from Moraga, Calif., where she attends Campolindo High School. A regular on the all-league honor roll, Jensen earned All-CIF First Team honors last season and will join the Trojans as a speedy driver in 2018.
“Kari is very quick and very tenacious,” Vavic said of Jensen. “She helps create opportunities in the counterattack and is another player from a water polo family. She’s been around the sport for a long time, so her water polo IQ is high. She’s another hard-worker."
Randi Reinhardt is a product of Murrieta Valley High School, where she was a member of the 2015-16 CIF championship run last season. An All-CIF First Team honoree as a junior, Reinhardt stands out as a talented two-meter defender. Her brother Tristan was on the USC men’s team.
“Randi is a grinder as well,” Vavic said of Reinhardt. “She’s a hardworking defender who is strong and will match up well with the best player of the other team to shut them down. She can certainly step in immediately and help us out.”
Coming to USC from Palos Verdes High School is Sophie Traversi, another new Trojan whose brother also was in the USC men’s program. An All-CIF Second Team selection as a junior, she’s a two-time all-league second teamer who brings in skill as a versatile utility playerr.
“Sophia brings us some length, and she's one of those players who is capable of doing a lot of things,” Vavic said of Traversi. “She can can post, guard, shoot and pass, and will become very important to us as she improves. She loves to train, and she's eager to learn and get better.”
Another Palos Verdes High product, Molly Leimbach has snagged all-league second team accolades and also follows in the footsteps of a sibling, as her sister Kaitlin has been a member of the USC women’s team. A speedy driver, Leimbach is another welcome addition to the Trojan Family for 2018.
“Molly has a lot of positives,” Vavic said of Leimbach. “She’s the main scorer on her high school team. She's a tenacious driver who can create opportunities in the fast break and in one-on-one offense. She’s not afraid of contact, and she has a big heart."