Polo Powerhouse

Cy Creek has water polo dynasty

Cy Creek’s water polo program is a dynasty in the making. Photo by Cy Creek Water Polo

Originally appeared on Vype.com.

Even though Cypress Creek water polo added its sixth and seventh state championships the last two years, it’s often overlooked as one of the area’s most dominant dynasties.

A big part of that is being a non-UIL program, which affects exposure, funding and roster depth.

Coach Jeff Chandler lost four of his seven starters to the 2016 graduation, and a pair of first-team, all-state honorees to this year’s ceremony, but he’s been training this year’s group for a number of years.

If seniors Brooke Jones, Alexis Agueros, Kristina Gantz and Rachel Brewer, as well as junior Kayla McQueen, become the utility players and leaders he wants them to be, a three-peat could be on the horizon.

“It’s the next person up,” Chandler said of his team’s mentality. “They know what I expect, and what they need to do to win.”

Although Chandler joked that “scoring more goals than the other teams” was the key to winning another championship, it’s really going to come down to filling the roles of three losses on defense.

Former all-state, honorable-mention Jones doesn’t expect that to be a problem because she said her team performs the best when its back is against the wall.

“We have a very small water polo community at our school, and I think that may push us to be better,” Jones said. “We don’t have a lot of extra [players], so we have to work really hard to get our small bench to be very good.”

Even with Cy Creek’s tradition and excellence in the sport, water polo isn’t growing at the same rate as other schools in Cy-Fair ISD. Jones said the $250 club fee that athletes have to pay to play the TISCA sport is one of the reasons why more athletes at her school are not coming out for the sport, but Chandler thinks the added district competition will help his program long-term.

“I don’t think there’s going to be major changes until it becomes a UIL-sanctioned sport,” Jones said. “We haven’t had any kids from other sports come over to us.”

This article appeared in the December issue of VYPE Magazine. Pick up your copy today at any one of our locations!

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Altuve's homer starting the scoring for Houston on Friday night. Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
After a solid showing to take the three of the four-game series in Arlington against the Rangers to start the week, the Astros returned home for three against the Diamondbacks in a weekend series. They would have a slow start to the opener but would ultimately come away victorious.

Final Score (10 innings): Astros 4, Diamondbacks 3

Astros' Record: 87-60, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek (3-4)

Losing Pitcher: Tyler Clippard (1-1)

Bielak makes the impromptu start

With Luis Garcia having to move his start ahead by a day on Thursday instead of Friday with Framber Valdez's finger cut, Brandon Bielak made a start for Houston in the opener against Arizona. He didn't go as deep as he probably would have wanted and certainly ventured out of his comfort zone with traffic on the bases.

He loaded the bases in the top of the first, allowing a single and two walks, but was able to strand all three to keep it a scoreless game. He rebounded with a 1-2-3 second, but he dealt with a threat again in the third as back-to-back singles pressured him to start the inning. He would get back-to-back strikeouts, but that's as far as he would go as Houston moved on to Blake Taylor. Taylor got the final out of the third on one pitch, then erased a two-out double in the top of the fourth.

Altuve breaks up the no-no with a go-ahead homer

Brooks Raley took over in the top of the fifth, but in his three batters, he faced allowed a single while getting two outs before Cristian Javier took over to end the frame. Javier allowed the first run of the game in the top of the sixth, a leadoff solo homer to Kole Calhoun to put the Diamondbacks in front 1-0 before he finished the inning.

Madison Bumgarner didn't allow a single hit to the Astros through the first five and two-thirds innings. He allowed a one-out walk in the bottom of the sixth, which proved costly as Jose Altuve would get the first knock of the game for Houston, a two-run go-ahead homer. Phil Maton was the next reliever for the Astros in the top of the seventh, maintaining the new one-run lead by erasing a leadoff single.

Astros get the win in extras

The Diamondbacks tied it up in the top of the eighth against Kendall Graveman, getting a leadoff single followed by a walk, then later an RBI single to knot things up 2-2. Houston stranded a runner in the bottom of the eighth, then brought in Ryan Pressly, who tossed a 1-2-3 top of the ninth to keep the game tied.

Despite getting the winning run in scoring position with a leadoff ground-rule double by Jason Castro to start the bottom of the ninth, they would strand it as the game went to extras. Arizona scored their free runner in the top of the tenth, getting a sac fly to move it to third then going in front on an RBI single.

The Astros matched that and more in the bottom of the inning, moving their runner to third on a lineout to start the frame, followed by an intentional walk to Yordan Alvarez. Jake Meyers tied the game with an RBI single, then after another walk to load the bases, Chas McCormick was hit by a pitch to bring in the winning run, moving the Astros closer to clinching their playoff berth.

Up Next: The middle game of this three-game set will have a start time of 6:10 PM Central on Saturday. Tyler Gilbert (2-2, 3.15 ERA) is expected to make a start for Arizona, while Lance McCullers Jr. (12-4, 3.12 ERA) will be on the mound for Houston.

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