Valhalla boys water polo team gets new coach, but top talent remains

Courtesy photo Ryan Munch, left, and Carson Voth are returning impact players for the Norsemen.

Ken Toma moves from Point Loma High School to Valhalla High School as the Norsemen’s new boys water polo coach in 2020-21. But don’t expect any drop-off in performance.

Toma inherits a team filled with talent and primed to excel.

Valhalla advanced as far as last year’s San Diego Section Division I semifinals.

“As far as my outlook for the upcoming season, I think we could do quite well considering we have 12 seniors who have been playing together for four-plus years,” Toma said. “We also have the added benefit of a pool on campus which has allowed us to train together when a lot of the other teams in the county are unable to do so.”

The Norsemen finished with 14 wins last season, including playoff victories against Clairemont and Poway. Valhalla, seeded fifth, ended its season with a 10-5 loss to top-seeded Westview, which went on to defeat second-seeded San Pasqual, 10-6, in the division final.

Top returners include seniors Carson Voth, Grant Peters and Morgan Folz along with sophomore Ryan Munch.

Voth, a second all-league selection and All-CIF consideration, is a two-time team most valuable player and is coming off last season as the team’s offensive player of the year. He ranks among the top 50 in Valhalla history for steals in one season (73) while adding 38 goals.

Peters, another returning all-league honoree and member of the all-academic team, is a two-time offensive player of the year on the team, notching 34 goals last season.

Folz is a returning coaches choice award winner and winner of the most improved player award with 32 goals

Munch earned honors in 2019 as the team’s defensive player of the year and earned further selection to the Second Team All-CIF Team with 152 goalie saves.

Impact newcomers to the varsity lineup include sophomore Louis Fehrensen and juniors Jimmy Brikho, Tate Clapham and Connor Audette.

All excelled at the junior varsity level last season. Fehrensen and Audette are returning taxi squad members.

Brikho earned honors as the JV team’s defensive player of the year while Audette earned honors as the team’s MVP, offensive player of the year and coaches choice award winner.

Off-season practice sessions have afforded an opportunity for the new coach to become familiar with the strengths of his players.

“For the past 10-plus weeks many of the athletes have been training with me at Ohana Water Polo Club which practices out of Valhalla and, as the new head coach, it’s been a great opportunity for me to get to know the athletes as we prepare for the upcoming season,” Toma explained.

“Moving forward my goal is to build upon Valhalla’s reputation of excellence and strong traditions by continuing to develop the young men who represent the program athletically and academically.”

The first day of practice is Dec. 12. The Norsemen are scheduled to host a scrimmage against Clairemont on Dec. 18.

Valhalla opens regular season play with a non-league game against visiting Eastlake on Jan. 2, followed by a non-league road match at neighborhood rival Granite Hills on Jan. 5.

The Norsemen open league play Jan. 19 at El Capitan. Other league opponents include Monte Vista, Santana and Helix.

Regular season play extends through Feb. 20. The section playoffs are scheduled Feb. 23 to March 13, followed by the regional championship tournament March 19-20.

Making waves

Granite Hills girls team opens the season with a pair of non-league home games against Valhalla (Jan. 5) and Point Loma (Jan. 7). The Lady Eagles will take flight to a non-league road game at Rancho Bernardo on Jan. 12 before returning home to host Santana in a non-league game on Jan. 13 and Helix to start league play on Jan. 14.

Granite Hills will remain home to host West Hills (Feb. 2) and Steele Canyon (Feb. 4) in a pair of league contests.

The Lady Eagles’ league schedule concludes with games at Grossmont (Feb. 9), West Hills (Feb. 11) and Steele Canyon (Feb. 16) and a home rematch against Grossmont (Feb. 18).

Varsity and junior varsity games are scheduled on the same day while novice games are scheduled on a different day.

Besides regular season play, Granite Hills will also once again host weekend sets of games in its popular Eagle Challenge series. Usually set in a Friday-Saturday time frame, six challenge events are scheduled: Jan. 8-9 (varsity), Jan. 15-16 (JV), Jan. 29-30 (varsity), Feb. 5-6 (JV), Feb. 12-13 (varsity) and Feb. 19-20 (JV),

The East County Invitational is scheduled Jan. 18-23 and the San Diego Open Feb. 15, 19-20.