DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four 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 13, 2015

Sand Gators still grinding it out

A busy week ended successfully for the Xavier sand volleyball team on Friday (March 13).
The Gators won their third match of the week and fourth overall with a 5-0 triumph over Scottsdale Rancho Solano Prep at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.
Xavier coach Tim McHale is pleased with the way things are coming together.
“We’ve got a good group of core players back from last year (when the team won the state championship), and they understand the concept of what we are trying to do,’’ McHale said. “And we have some young, athletic kids coming along.
“We are trying to get better and are working hard. The girls are starting to see the fruits of their labor.’’
Injuries and other issues have led McHale to mix and match with some of his two-person teams. That means the girls have to learn quickly and adjust to different playing partners.
One of the players making the adjustment is junior Kasie Thompson, who played with Ainsley Ramsey on Friday and came away with a 21-6, 21-7 victory.
Other XCP duos taking wins were Cierra Flood-Kristen Klein (21-5, 21-4), Kailey Klein-Emma Strouse (21-8, 21-19) and Macy Gordon-Carolyn White (21-4, 21-9). Rancho Solano forfeited a scheduled fifth match because it did not have enough players.
Thompson said she had played the traditional indoor version of volleyball and when she decided to try sand, “I just fell in love with it. It is so much more relaxed.’’
Some matches, she said, “can start off a little ugly when you have a new partner. But once you get to know each other, figure out what each other can do, that makes it a lot better.’’

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