BAKERSFIELD, Calif.--CSU Bakersfield opens the 2013 water polo season Friday afternoon when the Roadrunners host No. 15 UC Santa Barbara at 4 p.m.

CSUB moves from the WWPA to the MPSF in time for the 2013 season. The Roadrunners face a challenge of competing with arguably the six top programs in all of NCAA Water Polo head-on with 15 returning letterwinners.

Senior Jessica Browning anchors a balanced CSUB offensive attack. Browning was chosen first team All-Conference a year ago after leading the team in goals with 83, sixth most in Division I. Browning also posted 42 assists (the 11th most in Division I) for a total of 125 points (the fifth most in Division I). 

Redshirt senior Shannon McKenzie led Division I in assists with 82. She was third in Division I in points (140) and 15h in D-I in goals (58) and was chosen honorable mention All-Conference. 

Senior Sam Shead earned second team All-Conference honors after posting  44 goals, 35 assists and 79 points this season. Shead tied with junior teammate Taylor Hanson for 12th in Division I in assists. She was also tied with Hanson for 14th in Division I in steals (55). Hanson posted 39 goals, 41 assists for a total of 80 points.

Sophomore Janelle Shelby was named to the WWPA All-Freshman team. and was selected to the ACWPC All-Academic Team. Shelby scored 54 goals, the 18th most in Division I. Shelby recorded 67 points after adding 13 assists.

Sophomore Alex Bayer should be the starter in goal as Megan Pezzola is taking a medical redshirt. Bayer was amed to the All-Tournament team at the WWPA Tournament (second team) after making a school record 22 saves in the overtime victory over Colorado State in the fifth place match. She was selected to the WWPA’s All-Freshman team after leading team in wins (15) and saves (214). Bayer’s 214 saves were the ninth most in Division I.

Four newcomers join the CSUB program. Redshirt sophomore Fernanda Morales-Alvarez comes to Bakersfield after  playing for Mexico’s National Team. Freshman Nicola Barrett is the second South African native on the roster (Shead being the other. Freshman Niki De Leon was a first team All-League, first team All-CIF, team MVP, and All-City as a senior for Montebello High School. Makala Davis enters the program from Hanford High School.

CSUB is picked seventh in the MPSF preseason coaches poll that was released Jan. 11 and did not receive a vote in the preseason CWPA Top 20 poll. The Roadrunners have a challenging schedule, playing 14 of the 20 teams ranked in the CWPA preseason poll.