Northwood boys make a splash

Keep an eye on sophomore Michael Abshier of the Northwood High boys water polo team.

This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Timberwolves, who return just one player from the 2019 CIF semifinals. But over the first 12 games, Abshier has scored 47 goals, leading the team to a 7-5 record.

“He is truly a one-of-a-kind player,” Coach Kyle Kim says. “Despite being a sophomore, he has better game awareness than most and is contributing on both ends of the pool offensively and defensively.”

Senior co-captains Danny Kim and Ethan Chen, along with freshman Dean Witt and junior Iacopo Cagnoni, are among the other talented players.

University girls set their sights high

University High’s girls volleyball team, which won eight of its first nine matches, could make a serious run for this year’s CIF Division 4 playoffs.

“We have high expectations,” Trojans Coach Michael Sofley says. “I have a young group with a lot of talent. We’re just trying to get them to play disciplined and efficiently.”

Top players include outside hitters Katrina Soto and Julia Campos, “who take the most swings for us,” Sofley says, along with setter Allison Rodriguez and libero Kate Biagan, who “never comes off the court,” and freshman Corinne Van Haeren.

“We’ve seen other teams in our division,” Sofley says, “and I like our chances.”

Irvine High’s ‘Bulldozer Baden’

Defense has been winning games for Irvine High’s 5-0 football team. And a 6-foot, 220-pound senior linebacker has been leading the defense: Baden Tanikawa.

“Baden is a great player and a great young man,” Coach Tom Ricci says. “He is a totally different type of athlete than his brother Bryce, who was also an Irvine standout. Baden is a bulldozer. He brings a level of intensity and aggressiveness to our defense.”

Tanikawa recently committed to play next year for Grinnell College in Iowa, but after that, Ricci hopes he returns to Irvine – to help him coach.