CHS girls volleyball ends season on a ‘frustrating’ note

Claremont HS Girls' Volleyball Team in Action

Claremont High School senior Makayla Chiechi reaches for the save last Friday as the Pack hosted Alta Loma for varsity volleyball action. Despite some good play from the Pack, the Braves came out on top 3-1. COURIER photo/Steven Felschundneff

by Steven Felschundneff |

Claremont High School girls volleyball has reached the tail end of a very competitive Palomares League season which came to a head on Wednesday when the Pack hosted Glendora for the final regular season game of 2021.

Claremont needed the win to advance to the post season, while the Tartans needed the win to bump Bonita out of first place. As it turns out, the Tartans won, 3-0, over the Pack, while Bonita lost to Alta Loma, 3-1, effectively ending Claremont’s season.

Glendora become league champion followed by Bonita and Alta Loma with Claremont coming in fourth with a 6-4 record.

“We have had our ups and downs all season,” Coach Daniel Reighter said on Monday. “We have the talent, we have the depth, we have the strength, but we struggle with our court awareness and the girls working with each other on the court.”

Claremont has been battling it out with Glendora and Bonita all season. However, any hope of a league title faded when the Pack lost to Alta Loma, 3-1, last Friday. The Pack played well, leading early in every set, but had execution problems in critical clutch moments which the Braves capitalized on.

Coach Reighter described Friday’s game as “Frustrating.”

“We just weren’t clicking well. It’s an issue we have had all season, where if we just don’t click on the court and trusting each other we just tend to fall,” he said. “We execute higher than anyone else in our league. But we have times when individuals falter and then if one point isn’t hitting its cylinder, all six cylinders fault.”

Claremont’s big gun is outside hitter, Kinnidi Willmore, who has been hitting 600 for the last few weeks. Outsides typically hit 350 to 400, which is like a batting average that calculates kills, attempts and errors, according to Coach Reighter. The senior has committed to compete at Montana Tech next year.

“She is the big heavy arm and has been hitting at a very high rate the last few weeks,” Coach Reighter said.

Senior Makayla Chiechi who transferred from Bonita two years ago, has been a solid rock for Claremont’s defense, playing the key libero role.

At middle is Brenna Kusleika who, at six feet, is a standout junior for the team and will likely be scouted by Division 1 teams next season.

The frustration continued on Wednesday when Chiechi had to quarantine due to a possible COVID-19 exposure, forcing her to miss the Glendora match. Another player had to miss the Alta Loma match for the same reason.

Girls volleyball was one of the few teams that had no season last year, a lot of other programs played some games but it wasn’t an official league season. The girls also had an extended club season with many competing from October through July.

“So when the girls are on all cylinders, we dominate, there is no bigger talent. It’s just a young team that hasn’t played together [very long], plus the COVID year kind of messed with the dynamics,” Coach Reighter said.

CHS has seven seniors, meaning next year they will be counting on a lot of talent coming up from the JV team.

Coach Reighter is in his fourth year at Claremont and has coached volleyball for 13 years including at Don Lugo in Chino.


Volleyball holds “Pink Out Game”

During the Alta Loma match the Pack held a Pink Out Game in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The team had special tee shirts made that read “Go Pink or go Home.” They held a brief program between the second and third sets with an introduction from Pink Out chair and parent, Ali Kruze, followed by a moment when the girls each held aloft a pink card with the name of someone they know, or knew, whose life had been affected by breast cancer.

The Pink Out Game was part of the month-long campaign by the team to benefit the Susan G. Komen foundation.

Kruze, whose mother died of breast cancer when she was a high school freshman, will participate in the Komen San Diego 3-Day walk November 19 through 21. Participants walk 60 miles during the three-day event, which carries the tag line “Not as hard as breast cancer.” Each walker must raise at least $2,300 and Kruz said with the $908 they collected at the Pink Out Game, along with her personal fundraising, she reached the magic number on Thursday afternoon.

Susan G. Komen is the largest and best-funded breast cancer organization in the United States, according to Wikipedia. Komen provides resources for breast cancer patients to help navigate the American medical system and has funded research into the causes and treatment of breast cancer. The organization’s treatment assistance program offers small grants to patients with financial hardships.

Founded in 1982, Komen has invested more than $1 billion in breast cancer research, united 30 million people in the fight to end the disease and has provided financial assistance to 220 million patients.

Although the CHS season is over, the team will continue to raise money for Komen through the end of the month. If anyone wishes to contribute to Kruze’s effort please visit click “donate” and enter Ali Kruze.


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