The Vista Murrieta girls’ volleyball team won the CIF Southern Section Division Two title with a 3-1 win over Aliso Niguel at Cerritos College Saturday, Nov. 5. Valley News/Butch Owens photo

No. 2 – Vista Murrieta (20-10): 25-29-25-25=3

No. 4 – Aliso Niguel (22-7):        19-31-18-21=1

CERRITOS – Vista Murrieta’s girls’ volleyball senior class already had a CIF-State title as freshman and three Southwestern League championships to their names. Saturday afternoon against fourth seeded Aliso Niguel at Cerritos College, the Broncos were looking to add section championship hardware to the list of accomplishments.

Behind senior outside hitter Claire Little, who recorded 33 kills with 1 error on 84 attempts in one of the finest individual performances in section finals history, Vista Murrieta did just that. They become the second Southwestern League team to win a section title, joining Chaparral’s 2003 team and our area’s fourth champion in five years (Linfield Christian ‘18 & ‘19, Cornerstone Christian ‘19).

Vista Murrieta trailed 5-2 early in set one on a solo block from Kristin Choe and Madyson Smith’s kill. Back-to-back kills by Madison Pulsipher gave the Broncos a 13-12 lead which after three ties became a 19-16 lead on a kill from Lauren Ly. Little had two kills in the last three points including the set winner which closed a 25-18 win.

In the second set, a 12-9 lead built on three kills and an ace from Little, a kill by Ly, and a pair of Wolverine errors evaporated as Aliso Niguel rallied for a 31-29 win which tied the match at a set. Nicole Feliciano heated up for the Wolverines with 7 kills and an ace as they tied the match. Meanwhile, Little recorded 14 of her match-high 33 kills with an ace in the set loss.

“I want to leave a legacy and show the girls that come through here after me that they can do it too,” remarked Little. “Anyone on this team is willing to step in when called upon and that’s what makes this group special. I’m excited to start the CIF-State playoffs next week.”

Vista Murrieta grabbed an early 10-7 lead in set three as Liliana Montes and Pulsipher combined on a solo block while Little added an early pair of kills. It reached 18-13 as Little recorded four kills in a six-point span and Montes added a block solo to make their lead 20-15. A 4-0 run, punctuated by a Montes solo block, and an assisted block between Montes and Ly, finished the 25-18 set three win.

“It’s a reward for just how much time these girls put into their craft and speaks volumes for the level of volleyball we have here in the valley,” Broncos coach Ed Taitano said.

In the fourth set, Aliso Niguel had an early 10-9 lead as Macey Smith recorded an ace and Madyson Smith added a go ahead kill. Holding onto a 15-13 lead the Broncos went on a 4-0 run to create a six-point lead at 19-13. Miliani Villareal had an ace while Pulsipher added a kill and assisted on a block in that stretch. Montes got Vista Murrieta to championship point up 24-18 and also put away match point with her tenth kill after Aliso Niguel survived three match points.

Bronco notes:

Little: 33 kills, 1 error, 84 attempts (.381 hitting percentage)

Ly: 13 kills

Montes: 10 kills, 2 solo blocks, 4 block assists

Vista Murrieta advances to next week’s CIF-State tournament. Pairings will be announced Sunday, Nov. 6, in the afternoon at http://www.cifstate.org.

Derryl Trujillo has been a local sportswriter since 2018 and can be reached via email at socaltrekkie@gmail.com.