Vista Murrieta goes the distance, Lady Broncos win first ever CIF State volleyball title

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Vista Murrieta’s Lady Broncos defeated No. 3 seed La Costa Canyon in five sets to win the CIF State Regional Division 1 title. Courtesy photo.
Vista Murrieta is the second consecutive team from the Southwestern League to win the CIF State Division 1 girls’ volleyball title. Courtesy photo.

The whirlwind of the high school volleyball girls’ playoffs has taken Vista Murrieta from being ousted in the second round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs, to winning their first ever CIF State girls’ volleyball title. The Lady Broncos qualified for the State playoffs by advancing to second round of the CIF-SS playoffs, where they fell to Marymount High School.

Already knowing that they had an even bigger tournament to get ready for, Coach Ed Taitano, his staff, and players all took their down time seriously during the Southern Section playoffs while awaiting the State tournament to start.

Rachel Holmberg finds a way to score a point for Vista Murrieta during last week’s CIF State Division 1 championship game. Courtesy photo.

After knocking off the No. 12 seed (La Jolla Country Day, the No. 4 seed (Mira Costa), and the No. 1 seed (Sierra Canyon) in consecutive matches to reach their first CIF State Regional championship match, the Lady Broncos defeated No. 3 seed La Costa Canyon 25-20, 21-25, 32-30, 23-25, 15-9.

With the State Regional title in their hands, the ladies from the Vista Murrieta girls’ volleyball team were one win away from their first ever CIF State title. Standing in their way, the Campolindo High School girls’ volleyball team.

The ladies from Vista Murrieta (25-11) came out swinging Friday, Nov. 22, and took a 14-6 lead over the Lady Cougars in their first set, but things turned south quickly when some crucial errors took the wind out of their sails. The Lady Broncos dropped their first set 20-25, but that would be all they needed to ignite a little fire, in fact it was a Claire Little fire that really got things going.

Vista Murrieta’s Claire Little (14), pictured here earlier this season, had 30 kills against Campolindo High School in the CIF State Division 1 championship game. Valley News/Annette Saenz photo.

Little, a 6-foot-2 freshman outside hitter who is already committed to BYU, delivered three straight kills to secure the championship game and lit up Campolindo for 30 kills overall. Those kills tied Little for the 12th most by an individual player in CIF State championship history. Vista Murrieta defeated the Lady Cougars 3-1 (20-25, 30-28, 25-21, 25-22) to capture the Division I State title.

Vista Murrieta became the second Southwest Riverside County school to win a State championship in girls’ volleyball, joining Temecula Valley (also from the Southwestern League), who won this same title last season, becoming the first Riverside County program to ever win a State title. It is also the Broncos third CIF State title, adding to what boys’ track and field did in 2015 and 2016.