By Will Bellamy
Local water polo aficionados won’t even have to leave Davis to see the highest level of the sport as the USA Men’s Senior National Team will face Serbia on Thursday night at UC Davis’ Schaal Aquatic Center.
The local match is the second of a four-game series between the two teams in the coming days. USA and Serbia also go head-to-head at the University of Pacific on Wednesday, UC Berkeley on Saturday and Stanford on Sunday.
In addition to the chance to see a matchup normally reserved for the Olympics or the World Championships, fans will get to see a player with local ties take the pool.
Nic Carniglia, a senior at Lodi High who plays for the Davis Water Polo Club, recently made the U.S. Junior National team for the second straight year. With this four-game set being played in his own back yard, Carniglia was called up to join head coach Dejan Udovicic’s 16-man senior squad roster.
Carniglia will make his U.S. senior debut against a Serbian team that won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Also competing for the Americans on Thursday is John Mann, a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team that finished eighth, as well as McQuin Baron, Conner Cleary, Nolan McConnell, Alex Obert, Jackson Kimbell, Alex Bowen, Bret Bonanni, Josh Samuels, Michael Rosenthal, Jon Sibley, Danny McClintick, Nick Bell, Nick Bisconti and Ben Stevenson.
Serbia will field two Olympians of their own in Živko Gocić and Slobodan Nikić, both of whom rank among the top 10 in their country’s history in matches played and goals scored.
General-admission tickets for the 7 p.m. match cost $15 and are on sale online through the UC Davis Ticket Office, which also can be contacted at 530-752-AGS1.