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.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sand volleyball shows poise under pressure

If you measured all of the footprints left in the sand at the Victory Lane Sports Complex in Glendale, you might just find that most of them belong to Xavier volleyball coach Tim McHale.
He said pacing back and forth is his modus operandi, but even he had to have a few concerns and a few extra steps after his three-time defending champion Gators fell behind 2-0 to Surprise Valley Vista early in their semifinal match on Thursday night (April 23).
All it required was one more Valley Vista win in the two-player games to eliminate Xavier, but the Gators responded with three straight wins to keep their hopes alive with a 3-2 victory.
Xavier will meet Gilbert Highland for the title on Friday (April 24) at 6 p.m. at Victory Lane. Xavier defeated the Hawks 3-2 in a match earlier this season.
Highland went to the limit in the other semi against Scottsdale Chaparral before taking a 3-2 win over the Firebirds.
Before he learned who his team would be facing in the title match, McHale said it didn’t really matter “because it’s going to be a good match either way.’’
Essential to the Xavier comeback were wins by the teams of Macy Gordon and Nataline Braun, Caroline White and Kasie Thompson and the deciding duo of Kristen Klein and Emma Cisneros-Luebke. All three teams won by scores of 2-0.
“I’m really glad we got to show our poise under pressure,’’ McHale said. “Even the girls who lost worked hard and walked off the court without any fear because they knew their teammates had their backs. We knew Emma and Kristen would take us home.’’

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