Claire Little of Vista Murrieta is the IE Varsity Girls Volleyball Player of the Year – Press Enterprise



Claire Little, Vista Murrieta, Junior

The 2021 volleyball season was one of transformation for Claire Little.

As a freshman in 2019, Little established himself as one of the most promising outside batters in the nation by helping Vista Murrieta earn a CIF State Division I championship. The coronavirus pandemic wiped out the next campaign, so Little was given a leadership role when the Broncos returned to action in 2021.

“I went from the team’s ‘baby’ to one of the captains,” Little said. “It was a big change.”

She proved the challenge. Little continued to excel on the field, registering a team-high 442 kills and finishing second with 238 digs, and she emerged as a leader for a team with limited varsity experience. Vista Murrieta was ranked among the Top 10 teams in the state all season, and the Broncos advanced to the semifinals of CIF Southern Section Division 1 and qualified for the CIF State Open Division for the first time.

For these reasons, Little was voted the IE Varsity Girls Volleyball Player of the Year.

Vista Murrieta coach Ed Taitano was impressed with how Little handled these new responsibilities.

“I didn’t want to put too much pressure on her shoulders,” Taitano said. “I wanted those leadership skills to come out naturally, not be forced. And as the season went on, it did. Claire saw a different side of the game, so eventually we saw a different side of Claire. She did everything she could. we asked of her and more.”

Little, who has been committed to BYU since she was eight, had to get used to the attention paid to her by opposing defenses. In 2019, she was part of a large cast of proven attackers. This season, Little was the undisputed forward that coaches tried to slow down. Little received 38.5 percent of sets and recorded 40.3 percent of the team’s kills, still managing to make the same clip as her freshman year.

“I just saw it as a new challenge,” Little said. “I developed a new mindset to make sure I didn’t let other teams get into my head. If someone blocks me, okay, I’ll have to come back and make adjustments.”

Vista Murrieta outside hitter Claire Little #14 celebrates a point against Lakewood in a CIF Southern Section Division 1 Girls Volleyball Quarterfinal game in Murrieta on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. (Photo by Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Taitano said he is looking forward to seeing Little complete her high school career.

“Just when you think you’ve got it all, she does something else that blows your mind,” Taitano said. “She has one last chapter to write and I have no doubts that she will come back even stronger in her final season.”

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Upland girls volleyball coach Scott Robertson speaks to his team during their Baseline League game against Chino Hills at Chino Hills in Chino Hills Tuesday, September 14, 2021. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)


Scott Robertson, Upland

The Baseline League was one of the toughest in the state this season, but Robertson led the Highlanders to the program’s first league championship in 13 seasons.

What made this season even more special for Robertson was that his two daughters – senior setter Madison and freshman defensive specialist Chloe – competed in the championship run.

Upland opened the season with 12 consecutive wins and captured the Division 2 title at the prestigious Dave Mohs Memorial Tournament in Orange County. Upland finished with a 24-4 record and advanced to the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Division 3 playoffs.

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OH: Tehya Chadwick, Chino Hills, Sr.

OH: Riley Contreras, Upland, Sr.

OH: Haedyn Hayes, The Bears, Mr.

OH: Claire Little, Vista Murrieta, Jr. (Player of the Year)

OH: Brooke McKee, Upland, Sr.

OH: Julia Tolstova, Redlands, So.

OPP: Jayla Shanks, Santiago, Sr.

MB: He Okolo, Etiwanda, Sr.

MB: Fatima Sheriff, Great Oak, Sr.

MB: Kayden Croy, Riverside Poly, Jr.

S: Madison Robertson, Upland, Sr.

S: Brooke Hansen, Etiwanda, Fr.

S: Brooklyn Goedhardt, Ontario Christian. sr.

L: Paige Gutowski, Chino Hills, Sr.

L: Caitlyn Lopez, Norco, Sr.


OH: Madison Bailey, Murrieta Valley, Sr.

OH: Fallyn Blotzer, Santiago, Fr.

OH: Brianna Brewer, Rancho Cucamonga, Fr.

OH: Morgan Graves, Don Lugo, Fr.

OH: Stephanie Groswirt, Bonita, So.

OH: Gabby McLaughlin, Temecula Valley, Sr.

OH: Jameson Sanders, Heritage, Sr.

OPP: Taylor Underwood, Norco, Sr.

MB: Vivian Lisboa, Beaumont, Sr.

MB: Taryn Saunders, Chino Hills, Sr.

S: Ashley Artura, Alta Loma, Jr.

S: Madeline Brown, Beaumont, Jr.

Z: Leila Cornejo, Paloma Valley, Sr.

S: Saige Rivera, Chaparral, Sr.

L: Malia Kirton, The Bears, Mr.

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