Beach Volleyball Pairs state competition to increase to 24 Pairs

September 29, 2021 by Andy Morales, AZPreps365

(Andy Morales/AZPreps365)

The AIA Executive Board approved a motion to increase the number of pairs at state competition from 16 to 24 on Sept. 23 due to an increase of teams to draw from. Division I went from 40 teams to 42 teams with the addition of McClintock and Cienega and D-II went from 36 to 38 with the addition of Arete Prep and Desert Heights Prep.

Cienega hired former Tombstone standout Melinda Escarcega to lead the program. Escarcega teaches at Cienega and she won almost $54,000 in cash and prizes on Wheel of Fortune. McClintock hired former ASU standout Whitney Follette who is also a volunteer assistant coach with the Sun Devils.

Arete Prep did not field a team last year but the school had a team from 2017 to 2020. Desert Heights is in its second year of indoor volleyball. Arete Prep and Desert Heights have yet to name head coaches.

Pairs competition began in 2018 and there have been no repeat champions in that time, although current Univeristy of Arizona standout Abby Russell (Salpointe) is the only athlete to play in two state championship matches. There was no competition in 2020. Xavier Prep standouts Serena Turner and Summer McCann won the D-I title last spring and McKenzie Wise and Reagan Hope won D-II playing for Northwest Christian. Turner is playing volleyball for Stanford and McCann will be a junior. Wise is a freshman at GCU and Hope is a freshman at Oregon.

Salpointe standouts Brandy Kishbaugh (UNC Ashville) and Andrea Owens (North Texas) took second in D-II action last spring and Rylee Achtzehn (Southern Utah) and Alexis Peck took second in D-I play for Desert Mountain.