Vista Murrieta’s Claire Little joined Heritage’s Jameson Sanders as “Player of the Week” last week with her outstanding play at the Nike Tournament of Champions. Valley News/David Canales photo

By: Derryl Trujillo

— Contributing Writer

— It was a busy penultimate week of the regular season across our area. We’ve got Players of the Week to honor, updated CIF-SS Coaches Polls and Playoff Calendar, along with leagues to watch in this final week of regular season action.

CIF-SS Coaches Poll as of 10/5

A new poll comes out just after our deadline so here are Valley News area teams with rankings as determined by the CIF-SS volleyball advisory committee from last week.

Division 1/2

  1. Vista Murrieta

Division 6

  1. West Valley

Division 8

  1. Temecula Prep

Players of the Week 10/9

We honor a couple of Paloma Valley stars this week as wins over Hemet and Heritage put the Lady Wildcats in position to win an Ivy League championship.

Senior middle hitter Rachel Lowe recorded 24 kills on 43 attempts with two errors for an impressive .512% attacking percentage on those two wins. Wildcats coach Stephen Kaas said about Lowe, “Rachel has been dominant all season and is one of the area’s best middles. She can hit many different sets, attack the whole court, puts up a big block, and is a tough server. Her blocking in the fifth set against Heritage was huge in our victory.”

Paloma Valley’s Rachel Lowe was one of two Lady Wildcats to be named “Player of the Week” this week for her contributions in their latest wins. Valley News/Action Captures Media Group

Senior setter Leila Cornejo is the other honoree for Paloma Valley this week. In Friday’s win against Heritage, she recorded 43 assists, 8 aces, and 18 digs as the Lady Wildcats completed an undefeated week. Kaas said about Cornejo, “Leila has been our leader all season. She puts our hitters in one-on-one situations with almost every set which has given us a different kill leader in nearly every match, has one of the area’s best serves, is a good defender, and natural leader.” Cornejo is committed to Westminster (Utah).

Player of the Week 10/2

Vista Murrieta finished fourth at the Nike Tournament of Champions last weekend with a 5-2 mark and Lady Broncos junior outside hitter Claire Little joins Heritage’s Jameson Sanders as a “Player of the Week.” Little recorded 77 kills (.328% attacking percentage), 8 aces, and 41 digs in those seven matches. Via email Broncos coach Ed Taitano said, “Claire is a fierce competitor not just hitting the ball but a complete 6 rotation outside hitter with a high volleyball IQ with passing and digging to match. As the competition gets tense she is always up for the challenge. Claire is a positive leader and catalyst for her teammates and as a bonus, is really fun to watch. Nike TOC has been a great tournament for us to battle and prepare for our league and CIF playoffs.”

League Updates

Ambassador Western Christian is enjoying one of their most successful campaigns in recent history and with a win at Desert Christian Academy on Monday can play Ontario Christian for the league title on Tuesday. Linfield Christian should qualify for the playoffs in their first year since the program won back-to-back titles in 2018-2019.

Ivy Elsinore and Paloma Valley each have one league loss but are likely not going to play their second head-to-head matchup. The Tigers were in COVID protocol last week and according to both sides an officials’ shortage is making a makeup date difficult to find.

Mountain Pass One match on Thursday will determine this league championship and that’s West Valley at San Antonio, No. 5, and No. 6 in last week’s CIF-SS D6 poll.

Southwestern Vista Murrieta has clinched the league title and Great Oak, under first year head coach Cheyanne Te’o, is in position to earn runner-up honors with one more win. Temecula Valley and Chaparral will fight for the last automatic playoff spot.

Sunbelt Riverside Poly holds a one match lead starting this week and will play Temescal Canyon at home on Wednesday for the title. With wins by Notre Dame and Temescal Canyon there is a possibility of a three-way tie for the Sunbelt championship.

*Rancho Christian is a freelance program and currently 13-6 with a match left against Nuview Bridge according to MaxPreps data. Their playoff entry will depend on if there are enough automatic qualifiers from leagues in Division 5 to fill a 32-team bracket. In 2019 they were not given postseason entry because Division 7 did not have openings.

Chaparral roared back after a fourth set win, but ultimately fell to Temecula Valley 3-2 in their annual “Pink Out” match Thursday, Oct. 7. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Playoff Calendar

10/16: Pairings released at cifss.org

10/19: Wildcard matches where necessary

10/21: 1st round

10/23: 2nd round

10/27: Quarterfinals

10/30: Semifinals

10/6: Finals (D1 @ Mira Costa, all others at campus venues)

***First serve is 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted

Linfield Christian joins the 5s club with its fifth straight five set win on the road at Woodcrest Christian last week. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Linfield joins 5-0 in 5s club

It is no great secret that there has been a significant increase in five set matches across our area. Beaumont won their first five matches that went the distance before falling on Wednesday to Cajon. Thursday night in Riverside it was Linfield Christian’s turn to join the club with their fifth straight five set win on the road at Woodcrest Christian. Only one team in recent area history has won more than five straight five set matches and that was the 2016 Woodcrest Christian team led by current CBU player Tesa Oaks, which went 7-0 in 5s with five of those in postseason play. The Lady Lions this year are led by former Murrieta Valley star, Dana Ortiz.

Derryl Trujillo can be reached by email at socaltrekkieatgmail.com.