Girls volleyball team captures second CIF State title

By Dan Arritt     12/21/2017

Most of the players on the Santa Margarita girls’ volleyball team weren’t around when Chrissy Bloomgren’s spike hit the floor 18 years earlier. 

The feeling was likely mutual when Sarah Ciszek’s spike practically knocked over a player from James Logan of Union City on Dec. 1, securing the final point as the Eagles toppled the Colts in three games to win their second CIF-State title in school history. 

Then they celebrated like it was 1999. 

The other state championship was clinched on Dec. 4, 1999, when Bloomgren finished off St Francis of Mountain View in four games to earn the Division II crown. 

A big difference between that team and the most current one is the 1999 squad preceded their state championship with league and Southern Section titles. 

The 2017 team won neither leading up to their state run. 

Santa Margarita beat Mater Dei and JSerra the first time through league play, but lost to both the second time around and finished a game behind Mater Dei in second place. 

“I’m proud of the girls for ending on a high note,” Santa Margarita coach Katy Daly told the OC Register after winning the state title. “They played together really well. It’s a great end to their season.” 

It’s hard to believe the Eagles had to wait 18 years to win their second state title in girls’ volleyball. Santa Margarita has been the dominant team in the Trinity League, winning nine league championships between 2005 and 2016, but making just one trip to the state championships. 

The Eagles seemed even more of a longshot to win state this season after Meghan McClure graduated last spring. McClure was a three-time Trinity League most valuable player and a two-time first-team all-American.  

McClure’s talent is now on display at the college level, where she was a full-time starter as a freshman at Stanford this fall, helping the Cardinal into the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. 

Santa Margarita certainly felt McClure’s loss during the season, failing to win the league title for the first time in the past three years, and then falling to Redondo Union in the quarterfinals of the CIF-SS Division 1 championships. 

The Eagles peaked at the right time, however, losing just one game in four matches on their way to the state finals. 

Santa Margarita swept Palisades of Pacific Palisades in the opening round, then followed with sweeps against Santiago of Corona and the Bishop’s of La Jolla. The Eagles then knocked off San Juan Hills in four games to reach the finals, and that may have been their best match of the season. 

Ciszek led the way with 15 kills, fellow outside hitter Taylor Heberle had 11 kills and UCLA-bound setter Devon Chang contributed 34 assists in the 25-19, 25-12, 25-13 victory. 

Daly was especially impressed with senior libero Ashley Chow, who finished with 20 digs. 

“She plays with a lot of discipline and is very structured and it showed tonight,” Daly said of Chow. “She makes it look easy.” 

The Eagles could be in for another rebuilding year next season, as 11 of the 16 players on varsity were seniors, including five of the top six kill leaders. 

The player they’ll likely county on heavily is Heberle, a junior who finished fourth on the team with 208 kills.