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 14, 2016

Sand volleyball gears up for another possible title

The sand volleyball regular season will wrap up next week, so teams are beginning to increase their level of play in preparation for the state tournament.
Four-time state champion Xavier Prep is rolling right along, but has a key match looming on Monday (April 18) against Gilbert Mesquite at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix.
After his team defeated visiting Flagstaff 5-0 at GCU on Wednesday (April 13), Xavier coach Tim McHale figured the match against Mesquite would be a battle of unbeaten teams. That was before it was known that Mesquite lost to Tucson Salpointe Catholic 4-1 at Mesquite on Wednesday.
That means Xavier will be 9-0 and Mesquite 8-1 going into Monday.
Of his team’s effort against Flagstaff, McHale said, “We played really, really well. We have been working on teamwork, program-building and incorporating such things as being a good teammate.’’
 The coach will be looking at which duos are playing the best before deciding on a final position order for the tournament, which begins after Xavier’s regular-season finale at Queen Creek on April 20.
He has been pleased with the recent play of the No. 3 team of Kailey Klein and Taylor Lopez. They are in a good spot.
“That No. 3 is the swing game because it is important in keeping you alive,’’ McHale said.
McHale gave kudos to Flagstaff, which plays every match except one in the Valley. Flagstaff played its fourth match of the week against Xavier, having previously faced Surprise Shadow Ridge, Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep and Phoenix Arcadia.
“Flagstaff always has good athletes, but that much travel can be tiring,’’ he said. “They did a good job against us.’’

Xavier 5, Flagstaff 0
Xavier results
Macy Gordon and Caroline White def. Flagstaff 2-0.
Kasie Thompson and Cierra Flood def. Flagstaff 2-0.
Taylor Lopez and Kailey Klein def. Flagstaff 2-0.
Ainsley Ramsey and Trinity Cavanagh def. Flagstaff 2-1.
Emma Cisneros-Luebke and Kristen Klein def. Flagstaff 2-0.

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