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Xolani Hodel and Jacinda Ramirez making waves in beach volleyball

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Xolani Hodel never seems to take a day off.

In two years at Huntington Beach High, she has competed in CIF Southern Section postseason events in basketball, indoor volleyball, soccer and track and field.

Academics must be attended to for all student-athletes, and in addition to that, Hodel has done modeling.

So what trouble could club sports pose to a young athlete who has embraced every challenge put in front of her?

This summer, Hodel has enjoyed new success while playing alongside Jacinda Ramirez on the sandy beaches of Southern California.

The beach volleyball pairing met two years ago while playing indoor volleyball for Club H in Huntington Beach. Good things take time, and it took the duo a few tournaments to get their communication down.

“I think the first big tournament that we did well at was last year at AAU Junior Olympics, which was another national tournament that wasn’t as big,” Ramirez said. “We got second there, and I think that’s when I realized that if we kept playing together, we could become a really good team.”

Ramirez is a Seal Beach resident heading into her junior year at Los Alamitos High. She is a libero for the Griffins.

Hodel plays middle blocker for the Oilers, giving the beach pairing a good mixture of blocking and defensive coverage.

The all-Sunset League pairing has been working out with Hayden Jones, who heads the Golden Coast Beach Volleyball Club. They represented well in taking second place at the Beach Volleyball Clubs of America national championships in Hermosa Beach on July 19.

The winning pair of the 16-and-under division possessed a pair of college-committed athletes, the Sand Soul Beach Volleyball Club’s Tommi Stockham (USC) and Madelyne Anderson (Florida State).

“They were a strong team,” Hodel said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had to play a team with two strong blockers like that. They can span the whole court with just a couple of steps.”

This week, Hodel and Ramirez returned to Hermosa Beach to compete in the AVPFirst National Championships. They reached the round of 16, dropping a close match to UCLA commit Tessa Van Winkle and Mira Costa rising junior outside hitter Kate Reilly 17-21, 22-20, 15-13.

“Our placement had to be really on that game,” Hodel said. “We had our great moments, but then sometimes, the pressure of it all got to us. We didn’t face it well enough in some situations.”

Ramirez said she is always encouraging Hodel to attack the ball on the second touch, as she is the vertical threat in their tandem. Hodel may soon be asked to attack more at the high school level, too.

Hodel has played middle blocker to start her career with the Oilers, but Huntington Beach graduated outside hitters Bailey Nelson (Jacksonville State) and Maggie Baker last year, leaving the Oilers looking for new options to run their offense through.

“My [high school] coach, Craig [Pazanti], said he was talking about moving me to the outside, but then again, that requires a lot of practice attacking,” Hodel said. “I’m going to try to get into the gym and practice that enough so that I can move out to the outside and use some of those skills that can transfer over from beach.”

andrew.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @ProfessorTurner


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