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, May 6, 2021

Beach coach, players are "getting it dialed in'

 The teams are down to a precious few, and every play draws more and more scrutiny.

The players must figure out how to maintain their intensity.

For Xavier Prep’s top-seeded beach volleyball team, the Gators are in the state-tournament spotlight as many of their predecessors have been. But success is not a given. The players must adhere to the preparation regimen that head coach Tim McHale preaches.

Xavier faced No. 8 seed Goodyear Millennium in a quarterfinal match at Xavier on Wednesday (May 5) and McHale knew that the Tigers were not about to roll over.

“We had some good practices (leading up to Millennium), which were “get it dialed in’’ practices, get more serious and have more focus about the job you have to do. We needed that, because Millennium is a good team,’’ McHale said.

Millennium took two of the individual matches to three games, but Xavier remained its composure and managed to hold on for a 5-0 win, keeping its unbeaten record intact at 14-0.  Millennium finished its season at 9-5.

Xavier now heads to the semifinals on Tuesday (May 11) at Queen Creek Casteel and will play fifth-seeded Chandler Basha.(13-2). Xavier defeated Basha 4-1 on April 28 in the regular season finale for both teams. Second-seeded Gilbert Perry will face No. 3 Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor. Both semis begin at 7 p.m.

Three of the final four teams are from the Premier Region, and Basha and Perry are in the Chandler Unified School District, with all beach teams from that district playing their home matches at Casteel. Xavier played twice at Casteel during the regular season, against Perry on April 1 and Chandler Hamilton on April 21.

The two matches that went three games against Millennium were No. 5 Mei Tsou and Trinity Tran and No. 2 Lexi Yoza and Landree Coats.

Tsou, a sophomore, and Tran, a freshman, won the first game 21-10, dropped the second 21-18 and took the third 15-7. Yoza and Coats, both juniors, played the first two games close, winning the first game 21-19, falling in the second game 21-17 and then winning the third game 15-10.

The marquee match-up was the No. 1s, Xavier senior Serena Turner and junior Summer McCann, and Millennium’s Bianca Perez and Jocelyn Chavez-Rivas.

Turner actually was not there when all the pre-match introductions were made. She was taking an AP (Advanced Placement) test on campus. During introductions, McCann waved a large sign with Turner’s face on it. Turner arrived shortly thereafter. She will graduate soon and then move on to the Bay area to play beach and attend school at Stanford.

Turner and McCann won 21-17, 21-16 to complete the match.

“We’re getting more of a level of consistency,’’ McHale said. “The girls have spent a lot of time with their playing partners. They are able to find ways to get there.’’

Wednesday’s results

Xavier Prep 5, Millennium 0

No. 1 pairing – Serena Turner-Summer McCann, X, def. Jocelyn Chavez-Rivas-Bianca Perez, M, 21-17, 21-16.

No. 2 pairing – Landree Coats-Lexi Yoza, X, def. Morgan Stewart-Eryn Jones, M, 21-19, 17-21, 15-10.

No. 3 pairing – Katie Anthony-Zaira Reyes, X, def. Annabella Blowers-Ava Kreinitz, M, 21-9, 21-10.

No. 4 pairing – Tiffany Tellez-Alexa Shiner, X, def, Nicole Gary-Elisa Saunders, M, 21-17, 21-18.

No. 5 pairing – Mei Tsou-Trinity Tran, X, def. Charlotte Goto-Anne Brauckmiller, M, 21-10, 18-21, 15-7.

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