U.S. Olympic women's water polo team has a local flavor


Four Stanford women's water polo players and a Menlo Park resident will represent the United States at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil it was announced Thursday.

Makenzie Fischer, Kiley Neushul, Melissa Seidemann and Maggie Steffens were named to the U.S. Olympic women's water polo team by coach Adam Krikorian during a press conference held at the LA84 Foundation in Los Angeles.

Kiley Neushul
Sacred Heart Prep grad KK Clark was also named to the 13-player squad.

Fans will have a chance to see those five and the rest of Team USA at Avery Aquatic Center when Stanford hosts "Rumble to Rio," its heralded quadrennial Olympic send-off for the United States.

This year's event will pit the U.S. against Russia on Wednesday, July 27 at 7 p.m., the day in between the first and second sessions of the 2016 Junior Olympics which are also in the Bay Area, and is the final match before heading to Rio in defense of its 2012 Olympic gold.

Each of the previous four send-offs at Stanford have been sellouts and in the most recent edition, 2012's "Lunging to London," a crowd of 3,046 watched Team USA capture a stunning 17-8 victory over Hungary before the United States went on to win the women's water polo program's first Olympic gold medal.

Ticket information a further details for "Rumble to Rio" will be announced in the coming weeks.

Fischer, who signed a National Letter of Intent with Stanford in the fall of 2014, deferred her enrollment and will be a freshman on The Farm beginning with the 2016-17 academic year.

Neushul, a two-time Peter J. Cutino Award winner and three-time NCAA champion, wrapped up her Stanford career in May 2015 and finished as the Cardinal's third all-time leading scorer with 222 goals.

Seidemann and Steffens won gold at the 2012 London Olympics with Team USA. Seidemann graduated in 2013 following a season in which she scored 75 goals, won the Peter J. Cutino Award and was named the ACWPC Player of the Year. Her 239 career goals are tied for the most in Stanford history and are ninth in MPSF history.

A two-time FINA Women's Water Polo Athlete of the Year and United States team captain, Steffens was the 2012 Olympics MVP after scoring 21 goals in London.

A two-time NCAA champion and the 2015 ACWPC Player of the Year, Steffens took the 2015-16 academic year off from Stanford and possesses one more season of eligibility with the Cardinal.

Clark was a high school All-American as a senior and a two-time first team All-Central Coast section honoree.

She scored 60 goals in 24 regular season matches as a senior, second in league play. She accumulated 141 goals through her junior and senior seasons.

In the relatively short history of Olympic women's water polo, Stanford grads have played a significant role in the fortunes of the United States since the first women's tournament at the 2000 Sydney Games.

Over the four women's Olympic tournaments since 2000, Stanford boasts nine of its own combining to make a total of 14 appearances for Team USA at the Olympics.

The United States will open competition at the Olympic Games on August 9 against Spain. The game takes place four years to the day after the USA women won Olympic gold in London by defeating the same Spain squad. Drawn into Group B, Team USA will meet China and Hungary in preliminary play. The medal round is scheduled for August 19.

The U.S. Olympic team is currently ranked No. 1 in the world. It has won every major tournament since 2014, including the FINA World Championship, FINA World Cup, Pan American Games and three FINA World League Super Final titles.

This past March the group claimed gold at the Olympic Qualification Tournament, earning a berth to the 2016 Olympic Games following a 19-0 victory over France in the quarterfinal round.

Men's volleyball

The U.S. men's senior national volleyball team opened FIVB World League action with a win over Argentina, 26-24, 25-23, 22-25, 25-22, Thursday at Carioca Arena in Rio de Janeiro.

The Americans continue pool play on Friday against Iran (0-1), at 1 p.m. PT. The matches will be shown live on NBC Sports Extra and on NBC Sports Network.

Taylor Sander and Reid Priddy led the U.S. Men. Priddy, in particular, came through with tough defense and strong serving. Sander, the 2014 World League MVP, led all scorers with 23 points on a match-high 23 kills. Priddy added 16 points on 13 kills, two aces and one block.

The U.S. led in blocks (9-5), paced by middle blocker Max Holt and opposite Matt Anderson, who each had three.

Stanford grad Erik Shoji recorded a team-high 12 digs.

The U.S. led in aces (4-3) while the teams were tied in kills 54-54. Argentina struggled with 23 service errors, while the U.S. had 14.

Setter Micah Christenson set the Americans to a .342 hitting efficiency. Argentina's was .309.

Men's water polo

Team USA beat host Italy, 7-6, in an exhibition game on Thursday.

The Americans (11-1) are scheduled to meet China in the opening round of the FINA World League Super Final on Tuesday in Huizhou.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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