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.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Will another beach crown fit? Gators hope so

 Xavier Prep’s beach volleyball team has reached the Division I state championship match on Thursday (May 13) with a perfect 15-0 record.

The Gators were only in real danger just once, and that was on April 7 when they squeaked past Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, 3-2, in a match at Xavier.

In that match, Xavier rallied from an 0-2 deficit to get the win. The match seemed to be on the line during every play, and Xavier Coach Tim McHale called it “a deep bracket match.’’

On Tuesday, top-seeded Xavier, winner of seven of eight state championships, earned a chance at an eighth crown with a decisive 5-0 win over Chandler Basha. Xavier had defeated Basha 4-1 in the final regular season match on April 28.

McHale was particularly pleased with his No. 5 duo of Mei Tsou and Trinity Tran, the No. 4 pairing of Alexa Shiner and Tiffany Tellez and the No. 3 team of Zaira Reyes and Katie Anthony.

“We are really, really proud of the 5s, the 4s and the 3s,’’ McHale said.

He added that Reyes and Anthony have played well all season.

“They have sometimes been overlooked, but not by us,’’ he said.

Anthony certainly was not afraid to dive in the sand, doing so on numerous occasions to keep the play alive.

And the No. 1 duo of Serena Turner and Summer McCann turned in a solid effort to officially put the match away.

Like Anthony before her, McCann saved some shots, setting up Turner for one return that crept along the top of the net before dropping into Basha territory for the 20th point. Turner also accounted for the 21st and match point with a big block at the net.

Tuesday’s semifinal result

Xavier Prep 5, Basha 0

No. 1 pairing – Serena Turner-Summer McCann, X, def. Megan O’Meara-Haley Carrington, B, 21-15, 21-18.

No. 2 pairing – Landree Coats-Lexi Yoza, X, def. Madison Carrington-Macey Camacho, B, 21-16, 21-19.

No. 3 pairing – Zaira Reyes-Katie Anthony, X, def. Chloe Murakami-Maddie Malinas, B, 21-11, 21-15.

No. 4 pairing – Alexa Shiner-Tiffany Tellez, X, def. Lyenne Bect-Bryanna Murdock, B, 21-19, 21-16.

No. 5 pairing – Mei Tsou-Trinity Tran, X, def. Brooke Abel-Hayden Rosales, B , 21-15, 21-16.


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