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Reyes picking her spots

Creating chances hasn't been a problem for the Merced College women's water polo team.

Finishing them off consistently, well, that's another story.

At 7-7, the She-Devils haven't exactly limped out of the gate, but coach Bill Halpin has seen too many winnable contests go south because of the poor shooting.

"The girls aren't prepared to just rip it," Halpin said. "Our team has the physical abilities, but where we've struggled is with the mental aspects of the game.

"We were up 3-1 and 4-2 on Ohlone and were in a position where maybe one or two more goals could have put them away.

"Instead, we let up, and they came back and won. We don't have that killer instinct."

While the She-Devils have struggled to finish as a team, driver Randi Reyes has managed to find some individual success.

Coming from a Pitman program were she wasn't a top offensive option, the freshman has learned to pick her spots.

So far this season, she's chosen well.

Reyes has scored a team-high 27 goals and added eight assists in MC's first 14 games.

Her goal total is tied for 19th best in the state.

"I like taking my time and making sure I'm in a good position to shoot," Reyes said. "If you get nervous and rush your shot, you're probably going to miss or give the goalie an easy save.

"I just try to make the goalie move where I want her to and then shoot."

With MC preparing to host 13th annual Merced Breakfast Lion's Women's Water Polo Tournament today and Saturday, Halpin may need Reyes to start choosing her spots a little more frequently.

The 10-team tournament pits the North against the South and features six of the top 10 programs in the state.

"It's the top tournament in the state, as far as competition goes," Halpin said. "Kids come to Merced knowing they're going to face the best."

Merced opens the tournament at 8 a.m. against Chaffey, the state's 8th-ranked team.

The Lady Devils round out the tournament with games against Grossmont, Saddleback and Santa Ana.

"I'm expecting to learn a lot," Reyes said. "These are teams we'd see at state, so this should give us an idea of where we are."

Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports writer. He can be reached at 385-2476 or via e-mail at slynch@mercedsun-star.com.

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