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Oak Ridge duo headed to Florida

By: Matt Long
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Oak Ridge High has developed one of the top girls’ volleyball programs in the Sacramento area and that talent is finding its way to the sand. Oak Ridge senior Katie Vaughn and junior Alexa Becker will play in the USA Beach Junior Tour Championship in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Sunday. “I have no idea what this tournament is about but I’m assuming it’s the biggest one at our age level,” Becker said. “We really haven’t had that much practice time, but we’re going to have fun and see how we compare to other teams.” Vaughn added, “I think it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and we’d be crazy to pass it up. We’re really excited about it. I have no idea how we’re going to do, but hopefully we do well.” Part of the reason the girls don’t have any idea about how they’ll do is because they haven’t played together in the sand for very long, only since earlier this summer. Practically on a whim, the two decided to play in a tournament in Santa Cruz on Aug. 7. They won all five of their matches, won the tournament and that’s how they qualified to play in the tournament Sunday in Florida. “We’ve only played in two tournaments, but have done pretty well, finishing in the top-five both times,” Becker said. “In Santa Cruz we just entered to see how we would do. We weren’t expecting to make it to the finals so we were pretty excited.” The 5-foot, 8-inch Becker played libero for Oak Ridge last season, but said this year she expects to play outside. She brings back row skills to the team; passing, digging and setting, while the 6’2” Vaughn, an outside hitter, has the big kills and blocks, but is also quite skilled in the back. “The stereotype is that tall players can’t pass so a lot of teams serve to Katie, which really helps us because then I can set it to her and she can hit,” Becker said. “Katie can play all the way around and that really helps with our defense.” Vaughn agreed. “Alexa is good at defense and getting the balls up and I’m better at the net. We work very well together.” Vaughn, who’s earned a full scholarship to Brigham Young University, likes playing in the sand. “It’s a lot of fun, but it’s harder because you’re moving in sand and there’s only two people,” Vaughn said. “How good you are depends on how well you move in the sand and how smart you are. You need good court intelligence and court awareness.” While Vaughn has a scholarship already, Becker is looking at the trip to Florida as a chance to get noticed by college coaches. “For me it’s sort of like a recruiting trip too,” Becker said. “Beach volleyball is being added as a sport in the NCAA and this will be a good experience for me to play in front of college coaches.”