Excitement is in the air for local student athletes as the CIF-Southern Section offices recently announced the playoff division pairings for the 2021-2022 high school fall sports season, which includes girls’ volleyball, boys’ and girls’ cross-country, girls’ tennis and boys’ water polo. Girls’ golf will be released in mid-August, and football will be done at the end of the regular season. Every one of these sports had their original season shortened over this past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so this is a welcomed sight, especially for girls’ volleyball teams as their season only lasted one week.

As the school year kicks off for most local schools this week, and with the fall season approaching quickly, here is the power ranking breakdown for the proposed playoff pairings. These are for the high schools that are inside the Valley News coverage area as of the first week in August.

Divisional Playoff groupings

Girls’ Volleyball

Division 1/Division 2: Chaparral, Great Oak, Murrieta Valley, Paloma Valley, Temecula Valley, Vista Murrieta

Division 3: Murrieta Mesa

Division 4: Hemet, Linfield Christian

Division 5: Elsinore, Heritage, Rancho Christian

Division 6: San Jacinto, West Valley

Division 7: Orange Vista, Rancho Verde, Tahquitz, Temescal Canyon

Division 8: California Lutheran, Cornerstone Christian, Perris, Temecula Prep

Division 9: Hamilton, River Springs (Hemet), River Springs (Temecula), San Jacinto Valley Academy, Santa Rosa Academy

TBD: St. Jeanne de Lestonnac

Both Temecula Valley and Vista Murrieta are joined by three other Southwestern League schools in the Division 1/Division 2 girls’ volleyball playoff groupings for the 2021-2022 school year. Valley News/File Photo

Boys’ and Girls’ Cross-Country

Division 1: Chaparral, Great Oak, Hemet, Heritage, Orange Vista, Paloma Valley, San Jacinto, Temecula Valley, Vista Murrieta

Division 2: Elsinore, Murrieta Mesa, Murrieta Valley, Perris, Temescal Canyon, West Valley

Division 3: Citrus Hill, Lakeside, Rancho Verde, Tahquitz

Division 4: No local schools

Division 5: California Lutheran, Cornerstone Christian, Hamilton, Linfield Christian, Rancho Christian, River Springs (Hemet), River Springs (Temecula), San Jacinto Valley Academy, Santa Rosa Academy, St. Jeanne de Lestonnac, Temecula Prep

Vista Murrieta is one of four Southwestern League cross-country teams that find themselves back in the Division 1 playoff groupings this fall. Valley News/File photo

Girls’ Tennis

Division 1: Great Oak, Murrieta Valley

Division 2: Temecula Valley, Temescal Canyon

Division 3: Hemet, Murrieta Mesa, Paloma Valley, Vista Murrieta

Division 4: Chaparral, Heritage, Elsinore, Tahquitz

Division 5: Citrus Hill, Lakeside, Linfield Christian, Orange Vista, San Jacinto, Rancho Verde, West Valley

The Murrieta Valley girls’ tennis team joins Great Oak in the fall sports Division 1 playoff groupings. Valley News/File photo

Boys’ Water Polo

*The newly formed “Open” Division will be the top eight teams (selected by committee) and may come from teams in any division.

Division 1: No local teams

Division 2: Murrieta Valley

Division 3: Great Oak, Temescal Canyon

Division 4: Chaparral, Elsinore, Temecula Valley, Vista Murrieta

Division 5: Hemet, Murrieta Mesa

Division 6: Heritage, Lakeside, Paloma Valley, Perris, Tahquitz

Temecula Valley is one of three Southwestern League boys’ water polo teams in the fall sports Division 3 playoff groupings. Valley News/File photo

**The newly opened Liberty High School in Menifee is now open to 9th and 10th grade students this year and any teams that are compiled at the varsity level will compete in the Freelance League.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at sports@reedermedia.com.