Alyssa Esquivel
ASU Student Journalist

Desert Ridge Beach Volleyball: from playing in dirt courts to playing in state

March 4, 2022 by Alyssa Esquivel, Arizona State University

The girls are looking foward to their second straight state appearance this season (Valerie Sherrill photo/AZPreps365).

Alyssa Esquivel is an ASU Cronkite School of Journalism student assigned to cover Desert Ridge High School for

Four years ago, Desert Ridge science teacher Justin Sherrill stood face-to-face with a major project at hand.

His daughter, Jordan Sherrill, was about to enter her first year of high school. A beach volleyball player in the eighth grade, Jordan had a strong desire to continue playing at the high school level but there were no beach volleyball programs offered at Desert Ridge. However, this would not stop Justin from meeting with the athletic director in hopes of making his daughter’s wishes come true. 

“I was just kind of bummed because they didn’t have beach volleyball and at that time it had been around in the state for maybe three years or so. I knew it was out there, so I just started talking with the athletic director about how I could get this program started,” said Justin. 

Now science teacher and head coach for the Desert Ridge beach volleyball team, Justin has had the success any coach would hope to have in their first few years with three straight winning seasons and a state appearance. He would soon, however, be handed his second project in trying to renovate the worn-down volleyball courts.

“The courts were very rough at first. There were always volleyball courts on campus, but I think they were built in the early two thousand and nobody ever took care of them. There were like 6-foot weeds and we were always pulling out twigs and roots and unfortunately broken glass sometimes. So, yeah, that was quite a project to get it cleaned up,” said Justin.

After a few years of persuading, Justin would accomplish another major project in helping the girls get two brand new beach volleyball courts. 

Now in their fourth year, the future looks bright for the Jaguars who are looking to add another winning season along with their second straight state appearance. However, Justin understands that the biggest accomplishment of this program has been the improvement of the girls on the court and seeing bounds created within the team.

“I mean, it’s nice that we’ve had all winning seasons, but it’s not the most important thing. I tell them, too, that when you look back at your high school careers in certain sports, you’re not going to care about how many wins you had or how far you went into state. It’s just going to be about the time you got to spend with your teammates,” said Justin. 

A major factor that has helped contribute to the Jaguars’ success is top pairs senior Caprice Lorenzo and sophomore Lucci Alexander. Going 12-0 last year, the girls are poised for another undefeated season and will look to go deep in the pairs state tournament. One of many goals Lorenzo is hoping to achieve this season. 

“I just want to keep growing with my partner Lucci to improve on our finish from last season,” said Lorenzo. 

While Alexander hopes to make a return to the pairings tournament as well, she still wants to make it an emphasis to help Lorenzo have one final chapter she will always remember.

“My personal goal this season is to give it my all and to give my partner Caprice an amazing senior year that she’ll never forget! You are only a senior in high school once,” said Alexander.

The Jaguars (2-1) will travel to play Agua Fria (0-3) on March 4, where the girls will continue to make this program one to remember.