By: Derryl Trujillo
— Contributing Writer
— Well, the regular season has ended, and our attention now turns to the playoffs. We’ve got the pairings, rankings, a preview and players of the week to honor.
CIF-SS Final Coaches Poll as of 10/16
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.
- Vista Murrieta
- Great Oak
- West Valley
- San Jacinto
- Temecula Prep
- San Jacinto Valley Academy
- St. Jeanne’s De Lestonnac
- California Lutheran
Players of the Week 10/16
There are a couple of players of the week we would like to honor below.
Breanna Mitchell, SR, Linfield Christian
After the Lions graduated most of Eric Hawes’ back-to-back CIF-SS championship team, folks like myself had questions about whether they could keep the wave up. Mitchell has been key in Linfield’s sixteen-win (eight in Ambassador League) season which will continue next week with CIF-SS playoffs. Last Thursday at Aquinas she posted 13 kills, 2 aces, 8 digs, 4 blocks and 11 assists in another five-set win which clinched that playoff bid.
Note: Stats are through four sets due to technical difficulties with Linfield’s stat keeping system.
First year head coach Dana Ortiz said about Mitchell, “Bre has been a steady player for us all season. Despite being a libero in her club season and signing to play that position in college (CSUN) she has done an excellent job of learning to set and hit this year.”
Rachel Lowe, SR, Paloma Valley
Thursday morning at Elsinore, with an Ivy League championship on the line, the senior hit .667% with 10 kills on 15 attempts without an error.
Paloma Valley has won three straight Ivy League championships and will continue their season next week in the CIF-SS D2 playoffs.
Linfield Christian stays perfect in 5s with another in regular season finale
Earlier this year Beaumont won five straight five set matches before dropping a second meeting to Cajon. Thursday night in San Bernardino the Lions won a sixth straight five set match, all in Ambassador League play. If Linfield Christian can get one more five set victory, they will tie Woodcrest Christian’s 2016 team for what is believed to be an area record seven straight five set wins (five in playoff competition). That was the 10th five set match in Ambassador League play which ties the Baseline with most matches going five during league play.
CIF-SS Playoff Schedule
All matches start at 6 p.m. Thursday unless otherwise noted. If there are changes in time, date or site please email socaltrekkieatgmail.com.
D1: Lakewood at Vista Murrieta (10/27 at 6 p.m.)
D2: South Pasadena at No. 9 Great Oak, Murrieta Valley at No. 10 Ontario Christian, Temecula Valley at Paloma Valley and Chaparral at La Canada
D5: Elsinore at San Dimas and Heritage at No. 2 Mayfield
D6: Adelanto at No. 5 West Valley and Leuzinger at No. 6 San Jacinto
D8: Wildcard “B” winner at No. 5 Temecula Prep
D9: No. 8 St. Jeanne’s at Noli Indian, Waldorf at No. 4 San Jacinto Valley Academy, Wildcard “D” winner at Lakeside and River Springs/Temecula at No. 10 Cal Lutheran
All matches Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted and all wildcard winners will play on the road in round one.
Linfield Christian at Crescenta Valley (D4), winner to play No. 9 Los Altos
Apple Valley at Hemet (D4), winner to play No. 3 Palm Desert
Tahquitz at Temescal Canyon (D7), winner to play No. 4 Hillcrest
D1. After defeating Murrieta Mesa in their regular season finale, No. 6 Vista Murrieta (Southwestern League champion) will have to wait two weeks to take the floor against No. 3 Lakewood. Winner of that match will play either Sierra Canyon or Mater Dei. By earning a Southern Section Division One berth, the Broncos have earned a CIF-State berth. Junior Claire Little leads the Broncos averaging 4.8 kills per set while hitting .305%, 36 aces, 31 total blocks and 204 digs.
D2. Great Oak (No. 9) is having their best season since the departure of longtime coach Mark Motluck under the rookie Cheyenne Te’o. The Wolfpack posted a runner-up finish in Southwestern League play and as a result earned a home game against South Pasadena (who knocked out Linfield Christian in 2019). Great Oak recorded 17 wins (7 in Southwestern League play) and was 5-2 in five set matches (5-1 in league plus a loss to Citrus Belt League runner-up Redlands, No. 10 D4).
Murrieta Valley follows up their 2019 D2 CIF-SS finals appearances with another appearance in the 2021 playoffs. Ann Romero-Parks’ squad recorded 26 wins including a five-set win against Corona Santiago (No. 5 in D3) and won the Freeway Games tournament but struggled to just four Southwestern League wins. They were 1-3 in 5s during Southwestern League play and 2-3 overall but that one is the only loss taken by Vista Murrieta in league play. This is clearly not your typical at-large team, and they will visit No. 10 Ontario Christian. In Dave Mohs Tournament play the Lady Knights have victories against Chaparral and Temecula Valley, both in three sets. It’s a rematch of the 2019 Freeway Games final.
Via text message Romero-Parks said, “It’ll be a fun match. They are a good team and well coached. We’re excited to play such a historically strong program out of the gates.”
For context here is what Ontario Christian has accomplished in the last decade under coach Paige Liebhart: Back-to-Back CIF-SS and State Champions (2018 and 2019; Southern Section Semifinalists in 2012, 2016 and 2017; Back-to-back-to-back Ambassador League championships (2018, 2019 and 2021).
The Lady Knights are 2-0 against Southwestern League opponents with Dave Mohs Tournament play wins over Chaparral and Temecula Valley which both went to decisive third sets.
Chaparral visits La Canada and makes back-to-back playoff appearances just four years after finishing in fifth place in Southwestern League play.
D4. Hemet and Linfield Christian both play in Wildcard matches Tuesday night. The Bulldogs would play No. 3 Palm Desert if victorious and No. 9 Los Altos awaits the Lions.
D6. No. 5 Hemet West Valley and No. 6 San Jacinto both have favorable paths to the round of eight starting at home as neither will see a ranked opponent until at least the quarterfinals.
D7. No. 4 Hillcrest awaits the winner of a wildcard between Tahquitz and Temescal Canyon.
D8. No. 5 Temecula Prep made a deep run in 2019, losing to eventual champion Cornerstone Christian, and looks to continue that momentum in D8. Donald Reyes’ team will likely see No. 4 Big Bear in the quarterfinals with two wins.
D9. A lot of teams in this division. No. 4 San Jacinto Valley Academy looks to take advantage of the momentum generated by a CIF-SS girls basketball appearance with a deep run in volleyball. No. 6 Lakeside won the Inland Valley League and is enjoying their best season in program history under coach Dena Lindsey. With two wins, No. 3 Tarbut V’Torah awaits the Lancers in quarterfinal play. No. 8 St. Jeanne’s De Lestonnac earns the first poll ranking of a sport in school history and will likely see No. 9 Silver Valley Saturday with a quarterfinal spot at stake. No. 10 California Lutheran makes the playoffs under first year head coach Michelle Treder and is likely to play No. 7 Redlands Adventist in round two either early Friday or sometime Monday.
Derryl Trujillo can be reached by email at socaltrekkieatgmail.com.