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Prep Water Polo: Merced smothers Golden Valley

Jon Dibblee wasn't worried about the matchups.

That's not to say the Merced girls water polo coach wasn't concerned about Golden Valley's top scorer Anya Vierra.

Far from it.

It's just that Dibblee feels Merced's versatility is its strength.

Merced used a variety of matchups all over the pool as its defense smothered GV in a 5-1 victory Friday night at Merced College.

"We knew we wanted to shut down Anya," said Dibblee, whose team improved to 6-0 in the Central California Conference.

"We felt their three best players are as good as our three best players. We felt we matched up well from there.

"I didn't have anyone that I told, 'Make sure you're on her.'

"That's the first team I've had that's been like that."

Paige Rasmussen, Brooke Dutcher and a cast of others all took turns guarding GV's main scoring threat.

Vierra did score GV's lone goal to bring her team within 2-1 with 2:04 left in the first quarter.

However, GV didn't score again in the final 25 minutes.

"We didn't do what we practiced," Golden Valley coach Ana Fernandez said. "Merced put the ball away, and we couldn't put our shots away.

"We made a few bad decisions, but Merced's defense was excellent."

Still, Merced led just 2-1 at the half.

Then Rasmussen and Dutcher scored back-to-back goals early in the third quarter to open up a 4-1 lead.

Dutcher finished with two goals, four steals and one assist. Rasmussen also scored twice and dished off two assists.

"Our goal was to control the game and make them adjust to us," Dibblee said.

"I think we did that. Then in that third quarter, we score those two goals and I think that deflated them a little bit."

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at