Host Vikings open Western States with pair of wins

The host Johansen High girls water polo team rolled out the red carpet on day one of the Western States Championships, then proceeded to wrap its first two opponents snugly inside it.

The Modesto Metro Conference-leading Vikings improved to 23-1 on the season Friday with victories over Los Banos and Lincoln of Stockton at the prestigious tournament.

The Vikings, competing in the tournament's A bracket, resume play this morning with an 8:15 matchup against Sac-Joaquin Section Division I power St. Francis of Sacramento.

"We're really looking forward to tomorrow because St. Francis is a good matchup," Johansen coach Brent Bohlender said. "We probably won't see them in sections because they'll be on the opposite side of the bracket, but it will be a good opportunity to say they're seeded and we played them."

Johansen opened the tournament with a 14-5 victory over Central California Conference leader Los Banos behind Gabi Mantellato's team-leading five goals. Brooke Fuller scored three times, Hillary Niel and Kaysie Lewis tallied two goals apiece and Taylor Hanson added one for the Vikings.

"Los Banos is a good team, but we swam well," said Bohlender. "We're very well conditioned, we have a good hole-set, a good goalie. We have some real good components."

Johansen made Lincoln of Stockton its second victim of the day with a 13-7 afternoon victory over the Zebras that, unlike most of their matches this season, didn't come easy for the Vikings.

That's because hole-set Mantellato, the Vikings' leading scorer this season, ran into foul trouble and spent a large portion of the match out of the pool.

"With Gabi out, things got a bit dicey because we don't have much of a bench," said Bohlender. "But it's a good group. Gabi is a very good player who compliments the rest of the team, but they can still do it even when she's not out there."

The foreign exchange student from Brazil scored four goals, a total that was matched by Hanson. Fuller and Lewis added two goals apiece and Niel found the net once to round out the scoring for the Vikings.

Modesto High dropped a 9-2 decision to Ponderosa in its 'A' bracket opener. Arisa Coirin and Elie Byrd provided the scoring for the Panthers, who faced Clovis East later in the day.

"We didn't play up against Ponderosa," Modesto coach Mike Chiavetta said. "They beat us 8-5 or 8-6 if we play our 'A' game. We're not a team that can play at 85 percent and win.

"They were second in the section in D-II last year, so there's no shame in losing to a team like that, I just wish we had played better."

For Friday's scores and today's tournament schedule, click here.