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Student Athlete of the Week – Sophia Gilbert, Palm Desert beach volleyball

Starting off our Spring sports season with a little bit of sand. Who doesn’t love the beach? Palm Desert's Sophia Gilbert sure does. An indoor volleyball player that was given another opportunity to play the sport she loves. All thanks to the efforts of Palm Desert and Xavier Prep athletics. 

“The Xavier Prep coach and I thought it might be interesting to start beach volleyball for the ladies here,” said Palm Desert head coach Chris Braun. 

“I originally started playing indoor and I started playing in 7th grade, so it’s been about six years now,” said Gilbert. “This is my first year playing beach and I’m super happy to be out here playing against Xavier.” 

“She’s great because she is a senior and most of our players and underclass. So, she is the leader of the team,” said Braun. 

Aside from the competition, beach volleyball is a workout. But a fun one. 

“It’s definitely a lot more work than indoor you have to be really fast on your feet,” said Gilbert. 

“The movement skills are different. You have two players on the court at once, so it requires a lot more mobility and well-rounded play than the specialty play that we see in indoor matches,” said Braun. 

The Saints were the first to build a team here in the desert and the Aztecs were soon to follow. Both programs have hopes to make this a full league sport in our area. 

“Last year we only had two match’s and this year we have seven,” said Braun. “We have played over on the beach in Los Angeles. Plus, three other match’s where we will play teams on the beach.” 

“Indoor tournaments on the weekend, beach games during the week, practice during the week. It’s a year-round thing,” said Gilbert. 

“Just Xavier Prep and Palm Desert have CIF registered teams so we would love to have a league,” said Braun. “So, if all the other high schools could join that would be great.” 

What a great addition to the volleyball community here in the Coachella valley and hey, you never know until you try.

Article Topic Follows: Local Sports Events
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Bailey Arredondo

Bailey Arredondo is a Sports Anchor/Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. He joined the Desert’s News Leader in January 2022 here.


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