DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for more than three decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Another triumph for swimmers, divers

Thursday (Sept. 21) was a big day in the pool for Xavier Prep’s swimmers and divers.

The Gators prevailed in a dual meet at Phoenix Desert Vista, 114-72.

Xavier’s Alyssa Largay was the top diver, adding to the points total.

The Gators won a pair of relay events.

The first was the 200-yard medley relay. XCP swimmers were Katie McCoy, Pao Guerra, Olivia Paliscak and Mary Roediger.

The second triumph came in the 200-yard freestyle relay with Guerra, Thea Cartier, Vica Dow and Roediger.

Xavier had the top two finishers in the 200-yard freestyle with Dow and Sydney Millane.

McCoy won a pair of events, the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard individual medley. Roediger earned a win in the 50-yard freestyle.

The Gators also had the top two finishers in the 100-yard breaststroke with Guerra and Mia Rankin.

XCP will be participating in the annual Xavier-Brophy Invitational at the Brophy Pool on Friday (Sept. 22) and Saturday (Sept. 23).

Keep it going Gators !!

Gator volleyball defeats Desert Vista

The Xavier Prep volleyball express keeps right on rolling.

The Gators won for the 14th time in 15 matches on Thursday night (Sept. 21), taking a three-game sweep of visiting Phoenix Desert Vista. Scores were 25-17, 25-15 and 25-9.

“We got a slow start, particularly in the second game, had a lot of unforced errors, but then we got it together,’’ said coach Lamar-Renee Bryant. “Overall, I’d say we had some good, all-around play.’’

Xavier jumped out to a quick advantage in the opening game. Desert Vista showed signs of getting back into it midway through the game, but the Gators kept the Thunder at arm’s length.

Sophomore outside hitter Bri McKnight and senior outside hitter Lanie Wagner began to pound the ball with regularity, a scenario that would be repeated in the two games that followed.

Xavier completed the first game with a block and then a kill by senior Ericka Snopko.

Desert Vista grabbed the lead for most of the first part of the second game. The score was knotted at 11 and then the Gators scored seven straight points to gain control. A service ace by senior libero Alyna Draper put XCP over the top.

There was more Xavier domination in the third game. The serving of junior Trinity Cavanaugh proved to be a key factor. The final four points came on a kill by Snopko, a pair of out-of-bounds shots by Desert Vista and a return attempt by sophomore Jasmine Knight that hit the top of the net, snuck over and fell to the floor.

Next week, the Gators will have back-to-back road matches on Tuesday (Sept. 26) and Wednesday (Sept. 27) at Chandler Basha and Chandler High, respectively.

After that, the road will take them to the annual Nike Tournament of Champions, most of which will be held in Phoenix, on Thursday (Sept. 28) and Friday (Sept. 29).

Golfers, runners still on busy schedules

After winning a three-way match with Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor and Phoenix St. Mary’s on Wednesday (Sept. 20), the Xavier Prep golf team will be sharing host duties with Brophy Prep this weekend on Friday (Sept. 22) and Saturday (Sept. 23) in the Brophy/Xavier Invitational at Grand Canyon University Golf Course in west Phoenix.

Score of the most recent match at the Cave Creek Golf Course in north Phoenix were Xavier 147, Sandra Day O’Connor 181 and St. Mary’s 251.

Cross country – The Xavier cross-country team is back in action on Saturday (Sept. 23) when it participates in the annual Doug Conley Invitational at Shalimar Golf Course in Tempe. The race begins at 7:15 a.m.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Fatigue doesn't fit XCP volleyball

After a strong effort at the Durango Invitational in Las Vegas over the weekend, the Xavier Prep volleyball team returned to Arizona for another in-state match on Tuesday (Sept. 19).

The Gators picked up where they left off, excelling in all phases of the game for a 3-0 victory over host Gilbert Highland. Scores were 25-9, 25-16 and 25-16. XCP is now 13-1, with its only loss coming to Torrey Pines (San Diego) in the Durango.

Playing seven matches over two days as the Gators did in the Durango can drain a team of its energy. Xavier did not show any evidence of that.

“We didn’t practice Monday (Sept. 18) and we came out super focused (for Highland),’’ said Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.

The Gators continue to feed off a 3-2 win at Gilbert Perry last week, a match in which Xavier started the contest 0-2.

“After the Perry match and the good showing in Vegas, we are super confident right now and are playing at a high level,’’ Bryant said.

As if dealing with Xavier’s strength wasn’t enough, Highland did not help itself, committing numerous unforced errors.

Sophomore Bri McKnight had a productive first game with a handful of kills, a few blocks and a service ace.

“Bri was super aggressive out there,’’ Bryant said.

Xavier usually gets big efforts out of its top players, and a different player each match will step up and push the Gators over the top. In the Highland match, that was senior middle blocker Erika Snopko.

“She had some big blocks and kills and attacked over the middle,’’ Bryant said.

Junior outside hitter Hayley Nash provided the decisive final point in the second game with a kill. The last few points were delayed when a Highland player bumped her head on the padded post that supports the net. She was lying on the floor for a few minutes but later returned to the Hawks’ bench and fortunately did not appear to be seriously injured.

Highland stayed close early in the third game, but Xavier gradually began to pull away. The last Gator points were produced by sophomore middle blocker Jasmine Knight on a block and McKnight on a kill.

The Gators return home to the Activity Center on Thursday (Sept. 21) for a match against Phoenix Desert Vista. Start time is 6 p.m.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Gators win Silver Division in Durango Classic

It always is a challenge trying to survive against a strong field of volleyball teams in the 64-team Durango Classic in Las Vegas, which was played on Friday (Sept. 14) and Saturday (Sept. 15).

Xavier Prep’s Gators rose to the occasion again, winning six of their seven matches and taking home the title trophy in the Silver Division. XCP’s only loss was to Torrey Pines (San Diego) in a qualifying match early Saturday morning.

Xavier's Gators won the Silver Division in the Durango Classic volleyball tournament (Photo courtesy of Lamar-Renee Bryant).
Xavier, originally playing in Pool 8, was in control most of the way on Friday’s first day in defeating its three opponents, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego), Notre Dame Belmont (Belmont, Calif.) and McQueen (Reno, Nev.).

“Our biggest competition was Cathedral Catholic,’’ said Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant. “They were big, but we controlled them with our serves and had strong performances from (outside hitters) Lanie (Wagner) and Bri (McKnight).’’

Wagner and McKnight played well against Torrey Pines and setter Shannon Shields stood out on defense.

After the 20-25, 23-25 setback against Torrey Pines, Xavier came back to claim three straight victories. Those were 25-16, 28-26 over Marin Catholic (Kentfield, Calif.), 25-11, 25-15 over Edison High (Huntington, Beach, Calif.) and Marymount (Los Angeles) in the Silver title match, 25-21 and 25-23.

Bryant said libero Alyna Draper’s defense stepped up against Marymount and middle blocker Ericka Snopko “had great play.’’

Wagner, a senior, was named to the all-tournament team for the second year in a row.

Xavier  now is 12-1 overall and will be back in its home state on Tuesday (Sept. 19) with a road match at Gilbert Highland. That will be followed by a home match against Phoenix Desert Vista on Thursday (Sept. 21). Start times for both will be 6 p.m.

XCP badminton players come through

Xavier Prep’s badminton team put forth a strong effort on Saturday (Sept.16) in the eight-team Forner Invitational at Phoenix Sunnyslope.

Four players earned second-place medals for their respective categories: Alexa Wolfson (#2 singles), Misaal Irfan (#4), Maeve Lee (#5) and Anai Hernandez (#6).

Xavier had two category winners in doubles. They were Maddie Reinhart and Wolfson (#1) and Hernandez and Maddie Dines (#3).

XCP plays a home match at the Activity Center on Tueday (Sept. 19) against Scottsdale Desert Mountain.

Congrats, Gators !!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Badminton heads to tourney after victory

Xavier Prep’s badminton team, playing its third match in three days on Thursday (Sept. 14), rolled to a 9-0 victory over visiting Anthem Boulder Creek at the Activity Center.

The long stretch will continue on Saturday (Sept. 16) when the Gators participate in the eight-team Forner Invitational tournament at Phoenix Sunnyslope.

Other teams are Sunnyslope, Phoenix Greenway, Glendale Independence, Phoenix Washington, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, Phoenix Horizon and Chandler High.

Playing a lot of matches in a shorter period is good, but it also limits the amount of time that can be devoted to the players working on some of the aspects that could help them down the road, perhaps in the postseason.

“We talk about what we need to do at the end of each game, about what we did well and what to expect for the next match, but we also have to try to apply that in practice, the repetition. That’s what makes practice so valuable,’’ said Xavier coach Susan Contreras.

“We did pretty well today at being efficient. I think we lessened our errors. But we still have a lot of work to do.’’

One of the key contributions against Boulder Creek came from senior Alexa Wolfson.

She stepped in as the No. 1 singles player after Contreras learned that Maddie Reinhart would not be available. Wolfson picked up an 11-1, 11-3 victory and joined senior Rebecca Ryan for a 15-3, 15-0 sweep in doubles.

Junior Maddie Dines played in singles at No. 6 and got an 11-0, 11-1 victory.

Xavier Prep 9, Boulder Creek 0


Alexa Wolfson 11-1, 11-3.

Mimi Zurbriggen 11-1, 11-1.

Misaal Irfan 11-0, 11-0.

Maeve Lee 11-3, 11-4.

Anai Hernandez 11-5, 11-6.

Maddie Dines 11-0, 11-1.


Wolfson-Rebecca Ryan 15-3, 15-0.

Irfan-Lee 15-5, 15-5.

Hernandez-Dines 15-0, 15-3.