MURRIETA – Fans of Southwestern League girls’ volleyball had their eyes set on the Murrieta Valley High School volleyball courts Thursday, Oct. 12. The reason, Temecula Valley was on the verge of clinching their share of the SWL title, a feat they have not accomplished since 2017 when they won it outright. Standing in their way was the Murrieta Valley Nighthawks, who took the Golden Bears to five sets the last time they played, but couldn’t close the door.

Murrieta Valley’s Miley Thunstrom (22) gets up above the net to push the ball past Temecula Valley’s Savannah Sheridan (1) in their final match of the regular season Thursday, Oct. 12. Valley News/David Canales photo

In fact, the Nighthawks let a win slip away from Vista Murrieta last week as well, taking the Broncos to five sets in that match…which could have knocked the Broncos back a game in the standings. As for their Thursday matchup, Murrieta Valley went down quickly, two sets to none, and were on the verge of being swept behind the stellar play of the Temecula Valley offense, including Madison Snow (14 kills).

A win would give the Golden Bears the edge they needed to sit at the top. Enter Miley Thunstrom, who along with Ryleigh Short, helped the Nighthawks rebound with a reverse sweep to take the final three sets 25-21, 25-22, and 15-11. Thunstrom and Short would combine for almost forty kills between two, helping the Nighthawks stay relevant in the middle of the standings. Of course, they got a little help by way of a Chaparral loss. The Pumas fell at home 3-0 to Vista Murrieta as the Broncos secured their fifth straight league title with the victory.

The post season will begin next week and with Murrieta Valley (18-9 overall, 6-4 in league) clinching third place, they will receive an automatic playoff berth, as will second place Temecula Valley (18-3, 8-2) and first place Vista Murrieta (18-11, 9-1). A possible At-large bid could come the way of Chaparral (19-9, 5-5) with their points from last season taken into consideration while Great Oak (7-17) and Murrieta Mesa (17-14) both finished with a 1-9 record in league play to finish the season.

CIF Southern Section girls’ volleyball playoff brackets will be released Saturday, Oct. 14, at 10 a.m. Visit www.cifss.org for more information.

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

JP Raineri
JP Raineri

JP is an award-winning multimedia journalist, and head of the Sports Department for the Valley News. Over his time in the Temecula Valley, JP, a former Southwestern League head baseball coach, was also an on-air radio personality at Q103.3, KATY 101.3, Hot 103.9, and was a television host for the Outdoor Channel. When not covering local, or national sports, JP also serves as an Associate Baseball Scout with NSR.