Fresh off competing in her first international water polo tournament, Kat Klass wasted no time in swapping her Team USA garb for a green San Ramon Valley Wolves cap.
Just two weeks after helping the U.S. national youth team win a gold medal at the UANA Youth Pan American Championships in Argentina, Klass propelled her high school team to the Acalanes Invitational title by scoring 18 goals in four games.
In a title game between defending North Coast Section champions, Division I San Ramon Valley topped Division II Campolindo 6-3.
Klass had two goals, and her freshman sister, Sarah, added another two scores.
The title matchup featured two USA Water Polo teammates: Klass and Campolindo hole set Natalie Seidemann.
"I know her style of play pretty well from those two weeks, so I was able to bring that to the game," Klass said. "We guarded each other a little bit, but I guarded pretty much everyone in that game. It was a really fast-paced game."
Both Klass and Seidemann have water polo in their bloodlines.
Klass, who scored 132 goals while being named East Bay Athletic League MVP as a sophomore last year, is the daughter of Craig Klass, who competed in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics and is a member of the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame.
Seidemann is the younger sister of Melissa Seidemann, who helped the U.S. women's national team to a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
Now Klass and Seidemann have a taste of international water polo competition themselves.
"It was really interesting to see all of the other teams and their style of play," Klass said of the Youth Pan American championships. "USA Water Polo has a very regimented style of play. We got to play other teams from South America that don't follow the same rules and you have to adapt."
With a powerful singles lineup, topped by three-time Diablo Foothill Athletic League champion Rickimae Torres, Dougherty Valley is aiming high.
The Wildcats took first place for the first time in Division III of the California Girls Tennis Classic in Fresno earlier this month and last week beat defending league champion Miramonte in DFAL play.
"They probably have the strongest team in the area," Miramonte coach Michael McCollom said of Dougherty Valley, noting that the Wildcats have "some wonderful new players to add to Rickimae Torres at the top of the lineup."
The Wildcats have strong freshmen at No. 2 and 3 singles in Tracy Chen and Kaitlyn Nguyen. Torres, who has finished fourth three consecutive times in the NCS Division I singles tournament, has offers from Dominican University and Sacramento State so far.
Miramonte, which beat Dougherty Valley twice last season, has another strong team and always seems to have an edge in doubles. Monte Vista, which lost a bunch to graduation, showed quality again in a recent scrimmage.
Foothill, Amador Valley and San Ramon Valley are prime contenders for the EBAL title.
-- Matt Schwab
Heritage has been on the upswing since failing to reach the NCS Division I playoffs in 2008. The Patriots have made the playoffs the past four seasons, have won three straight Bay Valley Athletic League titles and 92 matches.
Something special could be happening again this year. Heritage, which has vaulted to No. 6 in the Bay Area News Group's East Bay online rankings, is a heavy favorite to win the BVAL this season, with an eye on going unbeaten in league play.
"That is a goal we have set as a team," Heritage coach Janet Hannigan said. "I'm worried about the target on our back getting bigger. Making it to the Northern California playoffs and beyond would be something we are striving for."
Now the program is one that is respected and considered a threat in the NCS playoffs this year.
"There is such a sense of joy seeing what the players both past and present, and hopefully future, bring to the program," Hannigan said. "It is so rewarding to see the growth and the fact that the players believe in the vision."
-- Matt Smith, correspondent