DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for more than three decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Gators begin quest for beach title No. 6

The first five times have been the charm for the Xavier Prep beach volleyball team.

Now, a new season has arrived. What are the Gators’ chances of making it six state championships in as many years the sport has been recognized as an official sport by the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

If their first two matches are any indication, fans should expect XCP to be at or near the top when the state tournament has concluded.

Xavier began the season on Wednesday (Feb. 28) with a 5-0 win over Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep and came back on Thursday (March 1) with another 5-0 defeat, this time over Surprise Willow Canyon at Surprise Community Park.

“We are where I think we should be at this point,’’ said veteran coach Tim McHale.

He does not yet appear to have slots set up for the one through five duos. That likely will come soon, perhaps when the Gators open their home season against Queen Creek at the Cavanaugh Courts on Tuesday (March 6) and travel to face Tucson Salpointe Catholic at the Tucson Racquet Club on Wednesday (March 7).

“We might be a bit more physical than we have in the past, and we are young, to some degree,’’ McHale said.

Xavier Prep 2018 beach volleyball roster

Analy Carbine, So.; Trinity Cavanaugh, Jr.; Emily Conn, Jr.; Abby Converse, So.; Ania Hiler, Fr.; Kailey Klein, Sr.; Cassie Kuhler, Jr.; Grace Lincoln, So.; Taylor Lopez, Sr.; Lauren Lykins, Jr.; Bri McKnight, So.; Zaira Reyes, Fr.; Lydia Rush, Jr.; Shea Sciarappo, Jr.; Shannon Shields, Jr.; Serena Turner, Fr.; Juli Westfall, So.

Thursday’s results

Xavier Prep 5, Surprise Willow Canyon 0

Analy Carbine-Lydia Rush def. Willow Canyon 21-11, 21-5.

Serena Turner-Abby Converse def. Willow Canyon 21-6, 21-5.

Lauren Lykins-Juli Westfall def. Willow Canyon 21-8, 21-6.

Trinity Cavanaugh-Kailey Klein def. Willow Canyon 21-7, 21-5.

Shea Sciarappo-Grace Lincoln def. Willow Canyon 21-6, 21-8.

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