The Michigan women’s water polo team traveled 3,000 miles to sunny California only to fall three times in four games at the Triton Invitational hosted by California-San Diego. The unfamiliar setting of an outdoor pool, clear skies and above-freezing temperatures seemed to stifle the Wolverines all weekend in losses to California-Davis (13-6), California-Santa Barbara (7-4) and California-San Diego (10-7). The lone win was a 6-4 triumph over California State-Northridge on Saturday morning.

“It doesn’t feel very good right now,” sophomore Carrie Stover said, a sentiment that was unanimous amongst the team.

The 13th-ranked Wolverines dropped three in a row to ranked opponents following the win. Each of the three top-20 California schools showed the seven-year varsity program why the Golden State is a hotbed for water polo.

No. 9 California-Davis handed Michigan its first defeat of the year Saturday night. An inefficient power play and lackluster offensive output doomed the Wolverines in what could have been a marquee win.

“Against a good team, when you are given power-play chances, you have to convert hopefully 50 percent of the time,” coach Matt Anderson said through the athletic department.

Michigan was far below that goal, going 2-for-9 in the loss to the Aggies.

Sunday, Michigan dropped an early contest to No. 16 California-Santa Barbara, and then fell to host No. 17 California-San Diego in the seventh-place game.

What could have been a joyous reunion for the 12 Californians on the Wolverine roster was more of a clear reminder of better weather and better water polo.

Michigan has just two seniors and one junior, so youthful mistakes and three difficult losses leave the team knowing that they need to grow up fast. With the hopes of an NCAA Tournament berth in mind, the Wolverines learned this weekend what type of performance will be needed to get there.

A four hour plane ride back to chilly temperatures gave the team lots of time to put this weekend behind them and learn from its mistakes.

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