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.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Gator volleyball stands tall in the sand

The four-time state sand volleyball champion Xavier Gators are off to another good start.
They picked up their second win of the season on Monday (March 7), 4-1 over Tucson Salpointe Catholic at their Grand Canyon University home sand in Phoenix. Xavier had defeated another Catholic rival, Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep, 3-0 on Feb. 29 at Grand Canyon.
“Salpointe and Notre Dame are established programs with good athletes, and they made us work for it,’’ said Xavier coach Tim McHale. “The 4-1 result was not indicative of what kind of team Salpointe is.’’
The Gators will attempt to make it three in a row on Wednesday (March 9), with a home match against Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.
Xavier’s No. 1 doubles team of sophomore Caroline White and junior Macy Gordon put the finishing touches on the Salpointe match with a 2-0 victory. They showed both power and touch, changing direction on some of their shots.
“They are both physical players who are still young and learning about the game,’’ McHale said. “They can play big, really swinging it, and also go small (with the touch shots).’’
The No. 2 team pf sophomore Kailey Klein and junior Cierra Flood scored a 2-0 victory. Klein was particularly effective with her serves on some rallies.
“I’m proud of them, the way they hung in there,’’ McHale said. “Cierra was outstanding.’’
The No. 3 team of seniors Kasie Thompson and Ainsley Ramsey gave it all they had before falling 2-0 to their Salpointe counterparts.
The No. 4 team of junior Emma Cisneros-Luebke and sophomore Taylor Lopez picked up a 2-0 win, and No. 5 duo, freshmen Alyssa Fierro and Shea Sciarappo also took a 2-0 win.
Xavier features 18 players, according to McHale.
“At the top end, we are really athletic,’’ he said. “Everybody is learning about strategy and how to communicate and we should get better as we go along. The young players are building on their skills and that will help them build confidence.’’

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