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.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Beach v-ball could get top seed at state

After stumbling in the quarterfinals while making a bid to win their seventh straight Division I beach volleyball crown last season, Xavier Prep’s Gators are back on course as they attempt to reclaim what they feel is rightfully theirs – the state title trophy.

On Friday (April 12), they completed the first step toward that goal – an unbeaten regular season – with a 5-0 win over Phoenix Mountain Pointe at Kiwanis Park in Tempe.

Now the 11-0 Gators will wait for the Arizona Interscholastic Association to put together its state tournament brackets, likely around Easter weekend. Xavier sits atop the power-points rankings with Gilbert Perry No. 2. Xavier fell to Perry in last year’s quarterfinals but came back to defeat the Pumas earlier this season.

Xavier will hold a couple of practices early next week, which is during the school’s Spring Break, then “recharge,’’ according to coach Tim McHale, before resuming practices leading up to the state tournament opener on April 23. A handful of the girls will be involved with club volleyball activities next week.

McHale said he took a cautious approach to facing Mountain Pointe, “because they are very athletic, well-coached and can sneak up on you.’’

In one of the first matches of the day, Mountain Pointe proved to be a challenge for the Gators.

Xavier’s No. 5 pair of Zaira Reyes and Katie Anthony took the first game 21-8, but Mountain Pointe recovered to earn a 21-19 win in Game 2. Xavier won the decisive Game 3, 15-10.

On the court next door, the No. 4 duo of Grace Lincoln and Shea Sciarappo defeated the Pride by nearly identical 21-15 and 21-16 scores.

At No. 3 were Analy Carbine and Tori Burton, who triumphed 21-8 and 21-12. Carbine, a junior, continues her late-season rise after being sidelined early with an illness. McHale said he can plug her into the lineup at almost any spot and still get a quality effort.

Next was the No. 2 combo of Abby Converse and Serena Turner. They won, 21-5 and 21-17, and are good enough to be No. 1 on many teams, particularly with Turner using her height advantage (the sophomore is 6-1) to keep opponents on their heels with blocks.

And in the top spot are seniors Trinity Cavanaugh and Shannon Shields. They use their agility and all-out effort to reach the ball where some others can’t. They wrapped up the match with a 21-16, 21-16 victory.

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