Back to the Beach

Sophia Gomez (25) and Lauren Barberii. (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)


…The explosion of teams competing in beach volleyball requires an investment in either renting facilities or building them like the Amphitheater School District did in 2018 when the district built three sets of facilities for each of its high schools, Amphitheater, Canyon del Oro and Ironwood Ridge. We aren’t talking the kind of sand one might find in a wash or in a bag, the courts are filled with professional-quality materials, the kind one would find at the Olympics are at the University of Arizona. Several millions of dollars spent.

Two of those teams met on Monday with D-I Ironwood Ridge (1-0) traveling to D-II Amphitheater (0-1). The Nighthawks came away with a 5-0 sweep over the Panthers but seeing the athletes of Amphitheater compete and grow in the sport is also somewhat of a victory for those who follow the sport.

Ironwood Ridge is a powerhouse program in both indoors and beach volleyball and the Nighthawks displayed some of that talent in the win at Amphitheater but the Panthers have developing talent under the tutelage of head coach Adam Welch and former Panther standout Samantha Reynolds (2009). Ironwood Ridge is guided by head coach Bill Lang and former Nighthawk standout Aunesty Jantz (2015) serves as his assistant along with Jerry Azares


Ironwood Ridge 5, Amphitheater 0
1: Lauren Barberii/Sophia Gomez over Natalie Sandoval/Arianna Alonso 2-0 (21-9, 21-3)
2: Jaedyn Azares/Gabrielle Suarez over Desirae Vigil/Desirae Mangum 2-0 (21-10, 21-7)
3: Allison Birtcil/Sydni Soloway over Alaijah Smith/Shanise Bustamante 2-0 (21-5, 21-7)
4: Daniella Alameda/Melanie Merrill over Aurora Baldenegro/Danielle Tuakalau 2-0 (21-6, 21-6)
5: Jasmine Lord/Jacey Olsen over Kenya Beckwith/Ahyoka Hornbuckle 2-0 (21-3, 21-6)

The Panthers will host Mountain View Marana (0-0) Wednesday and Ironwood Ridge will host a very important double-header with Xavier (1-0) and Canyon del Oro (0-0) paying a visit on the same night.

Arianna Alonso (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)


Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019 and he is a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. Contact Andy Morales at amoralesmytucson@yahoo.com

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