Officials from the CIF-Southern Section office in Los Alamitos recently released pairings for the upcoming girls’ volleyball playoffs, which will commence Tuesday, Oct. 17, with wildcard matches and Thursday, Oct. 19, with opening round contests. Our Valley News coverage area was well represented with 17 teams qualifying for postseason play and seven squads earning top ten rankings in their divisions.
Three teams earned top five seeds from our area in Temecula Prep (first in Division Eight), Linfield Christian (third in Division Six), and Cornerstone Christian (fourth in Division Nine). Also earning top ten rankings were Paloma Valley (seventh in Division Four), West Valley (tenth in Division Six), Tahquitz (seventh in Division Eight), and California Lutheran (tenth in Division Eight).
Rancho Christian received votes in Division Five and Liberty was also receiving votes in Division Eight.
Here are the matchups involving Valley News area teams. If there are any changes to times, dates or sites please email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org with updated information. All matches are scheduled for 6 P.M. start times unless otherwise noted.
Outlook: Highlighting the local slate is a rematch of last year’s quarterfinals as El Toro makes the trip to Temecula Valley. Winner gets third seeded Long Beach Wilson in Saturday’s second round. In a rematch of earlier this year Murrieta Valley makes the trip to Rancho Cucamonga, champions of the Baseline League, who they beat early in non-league play.
The Nighthawks come into this match off a reverse sweep win over Temecula Valley. Vista Murrieta hosts a historically solid Lakewood program that finished fourth in the Moore League while Chaparral made the playoffs in Gretchen Johnson’s first year as head coach.
Local matchups: Chaparral at South Pasadena, Lakewood at Vista Murrieta, El Toro at Temecula Valley and Murrieta Valley at Rancho Cucamonga
Outlook: Ivy League champion Paloma Valley is the lone area representative in this division and will host Valley Christian/Cerritos, a second-place team from the Olympic League, who comes into postseason play as winners of five of their past seven matches. Valley Christian has a pair of five set wins over Whittier Christian in the span of two weeks.
Local matchups: Valley Christian/Cerritos at Paloma Valley, 5 P.M.
Outlook: Rancho Christian gets a short trip to open the playoffs after finishing as runner-up in the Ivy League. Should the Eagles prevail they’d likely play second seeded La Reina in a rematch from their Division Six playoff run of a year ago.
Local Matchups: Rancho Christian at Temescal Canyon
Outlook: Linfield Christian is the area’s highest ranked team in this division, earning a third seed despite finishing third in Ambassador League play. It’s a division that the Lions have won previously, in 2019. After a mid-season coaching change Kat Pierce is finishing out the season as interim head coach and has six upperclassmen on her roster of 11. Anna Roth is averaging 3.5 kills per set to lead the Lions offense while Morgan Fox and Grace Toth are both averaging just under two kills per set. Brooklyn Pierce is averaging 7.4 assists per set and is a top-level club setter.
“It was the day before our league opener when the change was made and these girls have responded with such grit and determination to everything that has come our way this season,” Pierce said when reached by phone. “This week we focused on finding victories in areas other than the scoreboard and particularly on Thursday night against Ontario Christian the girls really embraced that mentality, leaving that gym as winners by taking a set from a program that has won 59 straight league matches and nearly taking them the distance. When the playoffs start, however, we have to take that attention to detail and bring it forward to a situation where the scoreboard will matter because a loss ends our year. “
“She leads from a place of compassion and confidence and puts the team before herself,” Pierce, a 17-year area veteran, shared about Roth. “At Hamilton we thought she hurt her wrist and was done for the year. However, ten minutes before the start at Arrowhead Christian we found out that radiology misread an x-ray and that Anna would be good to go. She had her stuff with her, went and got dressed, then told me that the girl who practiced in that spot deserved the start. It shows just what kind of leader she is.”
West Valley, after a third straight Mountain Pass League title, earned a ten seed and looks to duplicate last year’s quarterfinal run in Division Seven.
Local matchups: No. 3 Linfield Christian at Grace, Wildcard “F” Winner (Gahr at Sultana) at #10 West Valley,
Outlook: Both Lakeside and Orange Vista have made nice runs in the lower divisions and look to continue that success this year. Orange Vista was the champion of the Inland Valley League.
Local matchups: Lakeside at Fontana and Carter at Orange Vista
Outlook: Temecula Prep is the overall number one seed in this division which also has Tahquitz and California Lutheran in the top ten. Donald Reyes’ team dropped a pair of sets in league play en route to an undefeated South Valley League title.
“Our upperclassmen have year in and out done such a great job of modeling the habits necessary to make deep runs for our underclassman,” Reyes said by phone. “This year we have more high-level club players than we’ve ever had since I’ve been here and I’m hoping their experience will be a difference maker as we try to get over that hump and into a final. We also intentionally scheduled a couple of really tough non-league matchups to make sure our team is ready for the challenges of these next couple of weeks.”
Reyes lists Abby Pekrul (3.4 kills per set), a junior outside hitter, as a player to watch along with senior setter Angelina Browder (308 assists and 67 aces) and junior middle hitter Sidney Gray (2.3 kills per set).
Local matchups: Wildcard “A” Winner (Desert Mirage at Ontario) at #1 Temecula Prep, Inglewood at #10 California Lutheran, La Sierra Academy at Liberty, Wildcard “E” winner (Marshall at Tahquitz) at Academy/Academic Excellence
Outlook: Cornerstone Christian is the area’s highest ranked team in this division at number four after winning a Majestic League championship in undefeated fashion to finish an 18-4 regular season.
“When I got here, I didn’t have many expectations and thought if we could get just a few more wins than they’ve had the last several years that would be a successful season. The girls very quickly bought into everything I’ve asked them to work on and they’ve been rewarded for that work,” head coach Paul Amoy said by phone. “Just like the regular season we’re going to focus on our side of the net and prepare for each match to the best of our ability and see what happens.”
Amoy pointed out Presleigh Gaudy and Kaylee Galyon as his top two attacking options for setter Kaylin Woollett.
Local matchups: Wildcard “B” (River Springs/Hemet at Pacific Lutheran) winner at #5 Le Lycee, Wildcard “F” (Mountain View at Newport Christian) winner at #4 Cornerstone Christian, Wildcard “I” (Santa Rosa Academy at Grove) winner at #10 Shalhevet,
Player of the Week:
Miley Thunstrom, Murrieta Valley
It took a rally for the ages to pull off the senior night win and seal an automatic CIF-SS playoff bid but that’s exactly what the Nighthawks did on Thursday night. The win also spoiled Temecula Valley’s bid for a Southwestern League title and Thunstrom led the charge with 23 kills.
Derryl Trujillo can be reached at email@example.com.