Hoover tops Glendale

Tornado boys’ water polo team uses early lead to cruise to 20-14 victory at home

By Timothy Kim, Staff Writer

The Hoover boys’ water polo team did what it does best on Thursday. The Tornados defeated rival Glendale. 

Hoover defeated Glendale, 20-14, at home in a Pacific League match. 

While Hoover began the match with explosive deciviness, leading, 18-8, at the end of the third quarter, the Nitros found their second wind, giving them hope for a comeback before the Tornados shut down that dream for good. 

The Tornados came out hungry as senior Levon Harutyunyan scored the first goal just a few seconds into the first quarter. The Tornados kept up the pressure securing goal after goal.

The Tornados were on fire, as Hayk Yengibarian swam the ball point and scored their sixth goal of the match with time still in the first quarter. The Nitros responded quickly as they scored their first point, but not taking anything lying down, the Tornados scored another goal in retaliation. The first quarter ended with Hoover winning, 7-1. 

Unfettered aggression was the name of the game for the Tornados. They looked like they were on fire and took every opportunity to score. Even without so much as a glance, the players knew exactly what needed to be done. There was a sense of trust between not only the players but also between the team and Coach Kevin Witt. 

“Coach Witt is the secret,” said Samo Manukyan, a senior on the team. “And the bond we have between each player. We’ve been together for a while.”

As the second quarter started, the Tornados kept their aggression and a few quick passes netted them another goal. The Nitros responded with a point of their own, making the score, 8-2. The Tornadoes then proceeded to score four consecutive goals to build a 12-3 lead. The Nitros fired back with one last goal before the two teams ended the second quarter. 

Hoover had an immense amount of substitutes that Witt was rotating players in and out, along with switching their positions. 

“That’s just something I feel that’s the job of the coach,” Witt said. “I have to realize what my team and players are good at, and I have to find a spot for them- not the other way around. I feel like subbing frequently and getting more opportunities for people to play is only going to improve team morale.”

By the third quarter, the Tornados seemed to be losing steam and the Nitros seemed to be finding their second wind. Perhaps it truly was the side of the pool that the teams were on as the Nitros seemed to be on fire when they switched sides. 

Witt called for a full team substitution in the third quarter and into the beginning of the fourth quarter. With 9 freshmen on the team, it seemed like Witt wanted to give these players more experience in the pool. 

“We were trying to find the freshmen a lot,” said Manukyan. “We wanna hype these guys up as we’re stepping down — as seniors.”

This new roster, with both rookies and veterans, in the water would go through the shredder as they faced the Dynamiters in the final quarter. The Nitros would score six consecutive points, but the Hoover defense held and blocked crucial shots. 

Manukyan had a final message for his freshmen.

“The freshmen need to keep our legacy,” said Manukyan. “Hoover’s the champions. Has been champions. Will be champions. As we leave, we leave a legacy behind.”