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.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Xavier triumphs, heads to beach tourney at UofA

Xavier Prep’s beach volleyball team is stepping out of the sand and into a box of kitty litter.

Ewwwww. Say what?

Yes, that’s right. The Gators remained unbeaten on Friday (March 22) with a 4-1 victory over Scottsdale Chaparral at Scottsdale Ranch Park and on Saturday will be in Tucson for the annual Cat Box Classic hosted by the University of Arizona.

If Xavier continues to play in Tucson like it did against Chaparral, the trip should prove to be successful. Action starts at 9 a.m.

The Gators’ win on Friday was highlighted by its No. 1 (seniors Shannon Shields and Trinity Cavanaugh) and No. 2 (junior Abby Conrad and sophomore Serena Turner) teams.

Also impressive was a big two-game sweep by the No. 3 duo, Lydia Rush and Tori Burton.

“Our energy level was up,’’ said Xavier coach Tim McHale. “Yesterday (Thursday), we practiced a lot on serving. We did well, and we continued to do well today.’’

Shields, who was the Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year for Xavier’s state champion indoor team and is headed to Louisville for indoor, continues to learn the nuances of the beach game. And Cavanaugh, who will play beach at TCU, is ready to help.

Shields has a tendency to get amped up, too much so at times, and Cavanaugh helps keep her grounded, McHale said.

“There’s a lot of communication there,’’ McHale said.

Both players served well, and did a good job of using misdirection to place the ball where the Chaparral girls could not get to it.

Shields and Cavanaugh won 21-10 and 22-20. Converse and Turner were dominant, winning 21-2 and 21-12. And Rush and Burton won 21-12 and 21-6. McHale said Rush had 11 service aces in the No. 3 match.

The No. 4 team of Grace Lincoln and Shea Sciarappo took its match 21-10 and 23-21.

And the No. 5 team of Zaira Reyes and Katie Anthony won their first game but Chaparral rallied in the next two games, 28-26 and 15-13.

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