The game was already dying and the Spanish players, suffocated after so much effort in vain, did not know what else to do against an overwhelming rival. Anni Espar stole a ball and suddenly she found that three opponents would not allow her to swim past her position. She making it clear to him that there would be no possible redemption. And that the United States, the best women’s water polo team of the last decade, would prolong the misfortune of a Spain that this time it separated from the fight for the medals. Miki Oca’s team, after falling this Tuesday in the quarterfinals of the Budapest World Cup (13-8), is separated from the metals for the first time since 2015 and will have to settle for the fight for fifth place.

The afternoon could well be summed up in the continuous hammering of both Stephanie Harabalidis and Maddie Musselman, who between them scored 11 of the 13 goals for the United States (six for the first, five for the second, MVP of the match and who was already named best player in the last Olympic Games in Tokyo). A completely unbearable punishment for a Spanish defense that, although it was used thoroughly in the defense of the buoy, found no remedy for the outside shots without Laura Ester, first, and Martina Terré, later, being able to remedy it under the sticks.

The commitment of the Spanish water polo players, yes, was rewarded in the first two sets. In the opening act, and despite the 2-0 start, between Judith Forca, Maica García and Nona Pérez they were able to lead Spain to a hopeful 3-3. Miki Oca’s even grew in the second set, obtaining her first advantages thanks to Bea Ortiz, who had little chance of escaping her mark, and Forca, whose Vaseline on the imposing Ashleigh Johnson left one of the most plastic moments of the day (4-5).

But the United States took advantage of the break to recompose the aid of its rearguard and finish drying up a Spain without any possibility of connecting with its buoys in attack, and that in defense was unable to stop Musselman’s creativity and determination. The 11-8 with which the third quarter ended was nothing more than the prologue to an outcome in which Oca’s players were no longer able to get over their frustration, being unable to score in the last period. The Spanish team finished the match with a 22% shooting success rate, compared to 50% for their rival.

Although this Spain of Miki Oca, despite the progress in its remodeling, was a serious contender to stay in the drawer, its setback in the first round against Greece led it to the American alley, where no team seems capable of finding a way out .

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