With the CIF Southern Section selections a bit complicated, it wasn’t that way down in San Diego where the leader of the nation’s No. 1 team was voted player of the year. Now, Carly Diehl of Torrey Pines has been named as the 2019 Ms. Volleyball State Player of the Year. She joins head coach Paige Liebhart from Ontario Christian in collecting the first two major postseason all-state honors from the 2019 season. There are more to come. Go inside for details.
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This year’s Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Volleyball State Player of the Year isn’t a typical choice who is going to play the following season at an NCAA powerhouse like Stanford, USC or UCLA. But we have a sense that Carly Diehl from Torrey Pines of San Diego has the bigger picture of her entire life in front of her since she’s headed next to Yale.
Diehl was the setting sparkplug of this year’s Falcons’ squad that won its first CIF Open Division state title and also ended No. 1 in most final national rankings, including the ones from FloVolleyball and MaxPreps. She had 26 assists, five aces ad five kills when Torrey Pines topped Marin Catholic of Kentfield in the state final. But her best match might have been the one in the CIF Southern California Open Division final with a season-high of 52 assists in a 3-1 victory against defending CIF Open Division state champion Mater Dei of Santa Ana.
In gaining the Ms. Volleyball state honor, Diehl joins a list of former winners that dates back to 1975 and includes such legends in the sport as Kerri Walsh, Misty May and April Ross. She’s just the fifth winner from the CIF San Diego Section. The other four include one previous honoree from Torrey Pines — Reily Buechler from 2012 — plus Lexi Sun of Solana Beach Santa Fe Christian (2016), Jennifer Saleaumua of Chula Vista Bonita Vista (2000) and Alisa Eischen of San Diego Marian Catholic (1982).
Also considered for the top individual honor were senior Mia Tuaniga of Santa Ana Mater Dei and the duo of Nalani Iosia and Kami Miner from Redondo of Redondo Beach. Miner, a junior, and Iosia, a senior, were recently named co-Players of the Year for the CIF Southern Section in Division I. Miner also was the SoCal Varsity and Daily Breeze Player of the Year, but Tuaniga’s team at Mater Dei beat Redondo in the CIF SoCal Open Division playoffs and she had an outstanding four-year career for the Monarchs with more than 2,700 assists.
For the season, Diehl handed out more than 1,000 assists with a final total of 1,076. And when you consider the high number of 2-0 and 3-0 wins that the Falcons had, that’s an impressive number. She also could get a kill herself with a season-high of eight in one match and 118 for the season. In addition, Diehl was third on the team in aces and had 168 digs.
“She’s a great teammate,” said Torrey Pines head coach Brennan Dean about Diehl during a feature story about her done during the season on NBC San Diego. “She’s not overbearing or stepping on you. She’s got a great, gentle way of leading our squad.”
Diehl, who also was MVP of the prestigious Southern California Invitational tournament, committed to Yale before the start of the season and already has a view of her place in the world.
“I took a trip to Laos and we got to build walls for schools,” she said during the same NBC San Diego feature. “I want to help these other countries, and make the world a better place.”
She’s already made California a better place, especially in volleyball, and especially on the list of Ms. Volleyball State Players of the Year.
CAL-HI SPORTS MS. VOLLEYBALL
STATE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
2019 — Carly Diehl (Torrey Pines, San Diego) Sr.
2018 — Natalie Berty (Mater Dei, Santa Ana) Sr.
2017 — Devon Chang (Santa Margarita, Rancho SM) Sr.
2016 — Lexi Sun (Santa Fe Christian, Solana Beach) Sr.
2015 — Noreen Iosia (Redondo, Redondo Beach) Sr.
2014 — Yaasmeen Bedart-Ghani (Redondo, Redondo Beach) Sr.
2013 — Taylor Nelson (Granite Bay) Sr.
2012 — Reily Buechler (Torrey Pines, San Diego) Sr.
2011 — Emily Sklar (Presentation, San Jose) Sr.
2010 — Krista Vansant (Redlands East Valley, Redlands) Sr.
2009 — Rachel Williams (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose) Sr.
2008 — Rachel Williams (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose) Jr.
2007 — Falyn Fonoimoana (Mira Costa, Manhattan Beach) Soph.
2006 — Alix Klineman (Mira Costa, Manhattan Beach) Sr.
2005 — Taylor Carico (Mira Costa, Manhattan Beach) Sr.
2004 — Cynthia Barboza (Wilson, Long Beach) Sr.
2003 — Stecha Selsky (Marymount, Los Angeles) Sr.
2002 — Jessica Gysin (St. Francis, Mountain View) Sr.
2001 — Lindsey Sherburne (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose) Sr.
2000 — Jennifer Saleaumua (Bonita Vista, Chula Vista) Sr.
1999 — April Ross (Newport Harbor, Newport Beach) Sr.
1998 — Jennifer Carey (Newport Harbor, Newport Beach) Sr.
1997 — Nikki Hartley (St. Francis, Mountain View) Sr.
1996 — Janae Henry (Centennial, Bakersfield) Sr.
1995 — Kerri Walsh (Archbishop Mitty, San Jose) Sr.
1994 — Misty May (Newport Harbor, Newport Beach) Sr.
1993 — Misty May (Newport Harbor, Newport Beach) Jr.
1992 — Tanisha Larkin (Long Beach Poly, Long Beach) Sr.
1991 — Zrinka Kristich (La Habra) Sr.
1990 — Missy Clements (La Habra) Sr.
1989 — Piper Hahn (Mira Costa, Manhattan Beach) Sr.
1988 — Bev Oden (Irvine) Sr.
1987 — Jenny Evans (Newport Harbor, Newport Beach) Sr.
1986 — Keba Phipps (Artesia, Lakewood) Sr.
1985 — Tara Cross (Southern California Christian, Anaheim) Sr.
1984 — Elaina Oden (Irvine) Sr.
1983 — Wendy Rush (Rim of the World, Lake Arrowhead) Sr.
1982 — Alisa Eischen (Marian Catholic, San Diego) Sr.
1981 — Kim Oden (Irvine) Sr.
1980 — Linda Vaughn (Fremont, Sunnyvale) Sr.
1979 — Necie Thompson (Gahr, Cerritos) Sr.
1978 — Cheryl Jo Johnson (Corona del Mar, Newport Beach) Sr.
1977 — Mary Motah (Santa Fe, Santa Fe Springs) Sr.
1976 — Chris Anderson (Laguna Beach) Sr.
1975 — Denise Corlett (Marlborough, Los Angeles) Sr.
2019 STATE COACH OF THE YEAR
Paige Liebhart (Ontario Christian)
At first glance, selecting a state coach of the year who repeated as a CIF state champion might seem to be all there is about Liebhart’s honor for the 2019 season. Oh, but there’s a bit more to tell about her and her team. First, it’s that Ontario Christian had to win its state title this year in a higher division, moving up due to competitive equity reasons. And second, during the final playoff push in both the CIF Southern Section and CIF regional/state games, Paige was pregnant. Very pregnant. As in nine months pregnant at the time the Knights won their state title.
Liebhart’s squad won the CIF Division II state championship on Nov. 23 with a 25-20, 26-24, 25-20 victory over Los Gatos. The Knights capped a season in which they also won a CIF Southern Section title (nowadays not all state champions win section titles) in Division III with a five-set match win over Paloma Valley of Menifee and ended 38-3.
Two weeks later, Paige and husband David (who also was one of the Knights’ assistant coaches) became the proud parents of Jayleigh Liebhart, who weighed seven pounds, 13 ounces (according to social media).
During the previous season in 2018, Ontario Christian went 39-2 and captured the CIF Division IV state crown with a 3-1 victory against Presentation of San Jose. Earlier that year, the Knights won the CIFSS D5 title with a win over St. Anthony of Long Beach.
Liebhart just completed her seventh season and has turned around a program that won just six games in her second season in 2014.
Congratulations to her, her family, her team and assistant coaches for pulling off a unique double-double.