As if the girls water polo community didn’t know who the best coach and player in the Southern Section’s Division 5, the California Interscholastic Federation gave one final reminder of how dominant the Stein sisters have been this season.
Monday, the CIF announced that senior and USC-commit Elise Stein was named the Division 5 Player of the Year, while her older sister and former head coach, Michelle Valovic, picked up Coach of the Year honors.
Fellow Aztecs Sarah Nichols and Savannah Clyde were also honored on the All-CIF team.
Back in February, after Stein, Valovic and their crew cruised past Temple City 13-4 in the Division 5 finals for the team’s second CIF title in three years, the sisters both reminisced on how special their run together had been.
But to be recognized for all the hard work they’ve put in over three years alongside each other added special moment to a memorable run.
“It makes it just that much better. It’s such an honor to win Player of the Year, and Michelle was definitely deserving,” Elise said. “We’re both just very proud of each other and all that we’ve been able to accomplish together.”
After last season’s postseason run led Stein and the Aztecs to the CIF finals, where they lost 8-7 to Los Altos, the future Trojan came into her final high school campaign that much more motivated. Stein finished the year with 127 goals, including six in the finals against Temple City, along with 130 steals and 65 assists as the team captain.
For Valovic, this was the third-straight team she’s led to the CIF finals after the Aztecs won a title in 2014.
By themselves, both show undeniable talent and skill in and around the pool, but Stein said the special bond they shared certainly gave them an additional advantage no one else could match.
“It was just tons of fun. I’ve gone my whole life with her pushing me, and to have her by my side during high school was great,” Stein said. “She knows my strengths and weaknesses and really knows how to make me great.”