MORAGA -- As the Campolindo High girls water polo team completed a season full of championships, junior Annika Jensen was almost always in the middle of the action.
Known mainly for her center defense before this year, Jensen became an all-around contributor for the Cougars as they finished one of their best seasons in program history.
Jensen is the East Bay Player of the Year after leading Campolindo to a 26-1 season that included the North Coast Section Division II title and Diablo Foothill Athletic League crown. She also helped the Cougars win the NorCal Championships for the first time.
"Anytime we were in a close game, she was the person who was there to take (the responsibility) on her shoulders, and she was going to get it done," said Campolindo coach Kim Everist. "She came up big in huge opportunities."
Before the season, Everist told Jensen, her 6-foot center defender, that she would be needed to take on more responsibilities offensively. Jensen responded by leading the Cougars with 75 goals.
"She'd never really done center work before," Everist said. "Having to post up was a new task for her, and she met the challenge head- on."
Jensen was also the team leader in steals (35) and field blocks (20), and was second in assists (31) and earned ejections (30). DFAL coaches recognized her as the league MVP.
"As the season continued I became an all-around player. I was an attacker, and I posted up and played set
When the team needed a lift, Jensen was usually there to provide it.
Everist described her as a "gamer."
"I feel like I can step up when things aren't working," Jensen said.
Jensen comes from a family of water polo players. Her dad played in college at Cal and then Stanford while older brother Tor now plays at UC Santa Barbara after a strong career at Campo.
Jensen, who's been playing water polo since fourth grade, will be back to lead Campo again next year.
The Cougars, who will be looking to reach their fifth straight NCS title game, already will have a big piece of the puzzle in place with Jensen.