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, April 10, 2018

Gators back in beach volleyball groove

After a week off for Easter Break, Xavier Prep beach volleyball coach Tim McHale wasn’t completely sure what he was going to get from his team when it played host to Phoenix Arcadia on Monday (April 9).

As anticipated, the match had its competitive moments. But Xavier managed to survive on another increasingly warm day 4-1.

Xavier raised its record to 8-1.

McHale issues the same reminder to his players during and after each match – that though the No. 1 pair often controls the team destiny, it isn’t going to happen every time out, that the 2s, 3s, 4s and 5s will have to make their presence felt.

One of those instances occurred against Arcadia. The Titans’ No. 1 team played very well in its defeat of XCP, and the Gators’ other four teams came through.

“It took awhile for us to shake off the rust (after the layoff), but we managed to take care of things,’’ McHale said. “We knew Arcadia would be a strong opponent, and they gave us a good fight.’’

McHale applauded the No. 2 pair of senior Taylor Lopez and junior Shannon Shields, who won 21-12, 21-9.

And even though the No. 1 team of junior Trinity Cavanaugh and senior Kailey Klein fell in two close games, 21-17 and 21-18, McHale said they have improved greatly since the middle of the season.

“So the final result wasn’t a true indication of what they have been doing, but you can see it out there in how they play,’’ he said.

He still is assessing which girls work the best together.

“We have 16 girls who can play, and we still want to see what they can do,’’ he said.

The Gators have three matches remaining in the regular season – all at home. They are Wednesday (April 11) against Phoenix Sunnyslope, Thursday (April 12) against Gilbert Perry and April 16 against Tempe Corona del Sol.

The Sunnyslope match will be intriguing because the Vikings are in their first beach season. The school has a traditionally strong indoor program and coach Amber LeTarte leads the beach team, “so they will be another challenge for us,’’ McHale said.

Sunnyslope is ranked fifth in Division I by the Arizona Interscholastic Association, one spot ahead of the Gators. Perry is third.

The match against Perry originally was to be held on Friday, but has been moved up one day to allow players from both sides to attend a funeral service on Friday for Alex DePriest, an indoor player from Phoenix Desert Vista who played with many of the Perry and Xavier players at the club level.

Monday’s results

Xavier 4, Arcadia 1

Arcadia def. Kailey Klein-Trinity Cavanaugh 21-17, 21-18

Taylor Lopez-Shannon Shields def. Arcadia 21-12, 21-9

Lydia Rush-Analy Carbine def. Arcadia 21-18, 21-10

Lauren Lykins-Grace Lincoln def. Arcadia 17-21, 21-15, 15-4

Serena Turner-Zaira Reyes def. Arcadia 21-12, 16-21, 15-7

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