Bio

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 AIA365.com, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Corona del Sol gets Gators' attention

No time is a good time to lose, but there are certain points in the season that might be better than others for such an outcome.

Take Monday (April 16), for instance.

It was the final regular season match for Xavier Prep’s beach volleyball team. The opponent was Tempe Corona del Sol, the Gators’ rivals on the sand and in traditional indoor volleyball.

The result was a 3-2 Corona del Sol victory, but if Xavier had to be saddled with a setback, this was the time and not in the Division I state tournament that begins April 24.

Losing to a team with the caliber of Corona del Sol is something that might be beneficial for the Gators, keep them on their toes, not allowing for complacency to set in.

“I was walking past Ben (Maxfield, Corona del Sol beach and indoor coach) between sets and we said, “Another barn-burner,’ ’’ said Xavier coach Tim McHale.

Each team split the first four matches, meaning that the deciding game would come down to Xavier’s Trinity Cavanaugh and Taylor Lopez and Corona del Sol’s Brooke Nuneviller and Maddy Noble.

The games were about as close as one could get. Corona won both, 23-21 and 22-20. A player such as Nuneviller is tough to stop. She was the azcentral.com Beach Player of the Year as a junior in 2017 and was an outstanding indoor player, headed to the University of Oregon.

“We didn’t have any major faults,’’ McHale said. “You could roll the ball out on the sand 10 times and get 10 different outcomes. Both teams are that close.’’

Now the Gators (9-2) must wait to learn where they will be seeded. They have won the state title in each of the six years the sport has been in existence in Arizona.

As of Tuesday morning (April 17), the Arizona Interscholastic Association listed Xavier as the No. 5 team, one spot ahead of Corona del Sol but behind Goodyear Millennium, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, Tucson Salpointe Catholic and Gilbert Perry. Xavier’s other loss was to Salpointe.

As one of the top eight seeds, Xavier would host a first-round game and, if it wins, a second-round game. Semifinals are May 1 and finals on May 3, both at Gilbert Mesquite.

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