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.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

XCP volleyball 3rd in Nike Platinum bracket

Saturday (Sept. 30) was Mater Dei’s day.

And Xavier Prep’s volleyball team stood in the way.

The Gators gave it all they had in the semifinals of the top bracket (Platinum) of the Nike Tournament of Champions but fell to the Los Angeles-area team 25-22 and 25-18.

Xavier then played for third place and defeated Santa Margarita (Calif.), 25-21 and 25-20. XCP finished the tournament with a 6-1 record and is 22-2 overall. Mater Dei, meanwhile, went on to meet Walton High of Marrietta, Ga., and won the title trophy.

The Gators defeated Tempe Corona del Sol earlier in the day, 23-25, 25-19 and 15-11 in a rematch of last year’s 6A semifinal battle won by Corona del Sol 3-2. Corona del Sol went on to win the state title with a 3-0 sweep of Phoenix Mountain Pointe.

XCP had earned the right to face Corona del Sol with a 25-20, 25-19 victory over Pope John Paull II (Slidell, La.) in the first match of the day to determine bracketing for the rest of the tournament.

Xavier returns to 6A Premier Region play on Wednesday (Oct. 4) in the Activity Center against Chandler Hamilton. The Gators face Mesa Desert Ridge the following night (Oct. 5) at home before playing in another tournament, the two-day Gilbert (High) Invitational.

Xavier runners bask in the Desert Twilight

Xavier Prep’s cross-country team put itself in position to challenge for the Division I state championship with a strong showing in Friday’s (Sept. 29) Desert Twilight Invite at the Grande Sports World complex in Casa Grande.

Races were 5K and featured several divisions. Xavier runners were scattered throughout these categories. Some of the earlier races began in the afternoon, and the rest began after sunset.

Xavier finished fourth in the inaugural Sole Sports Sweepstakes division. The Gators had 186 points, with Chandler High capturing the top spot with118.

Xavier won the Large-School Open division with 46 points, just one point ahead of Lake Braddock, Va.

Two of the divisions were won by Gator runners.

Junior Karina Hawkins won the Large-School Open and Joey Hernandez won the Large-School Freshman.

Junior Karina Smith finished third in the Large-School Open. Nine more XCP girls competed in that division.

Sophomore Kristen Keeble was eighth, followed by sophomore Grace Valandra (15th), junior Karli Baker (19th), senior Abbie Conrad (24th), senior Annika Nielson (25th), sophomore Kaitlyn Lauck (82nd), junior Megan Woodbury (100th), junior Arden Smith (184th) and sophomore Hannah Phillippi (191st).

Following Hernandez in the Large-School Freshman were Rishita Shah (42nd), Caroline Calihan (62nd) and Emma Chester (109th).

Freshman Jamie Stelnik had a noteworthy effort in the Championship division, finishing fifth.

Xavier runners in the Sweepstakes division:

Sophomore Mia Olsen (30th), freshman Cami Merickel (39th), senior Kate Straneva (53rd), junior Helen Innes (55th), senior Caroline McClelland (56th), senior Caroline Liddy (57th) and freshman Sammy Braun (64th).

Xavier next runs in the Thunderbird Invitational on Oct. 7 at Mountain View Park in Phoenix.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Gators sweep in first day of Nike volleyball

It's so far, so good for Xavier Prep's volleyball team in the 2017 Nike Tournament of Champions.

The Gators won all three of their matches in Friday's (Sept. 29) pool play and will play a qualifying match on Saturday (Sept. 30) at 9:30 a.m. at Arizona State's Sun Devil Fitness Center in Tempe.

Xavier will meet Pope John Paull II of Slidell, La., in that contest, which will decide placement in tournament brackets later in the day.

Xavier's scores in Pool G on Friday (matches are best of three):

Def. Sacred Heart (Louisville, Ky.) 25-22, 25-17.

Def. Leon (Tallahassee, Fla.) 25-13, 25-20.

Def. Beckman (Irvine, Calif.) 22-25, 25-14, 15-6.

Late coach wanted swimmers, divers to keep going

“Feel your power.’’

That was one of the trademarks of motivation for Maureen “Mo’’ Rankin as she served as head coach of the Xavier Prep swimming and diving team.

Rankin passed away early Monday (Sept. 25) after battling cancer, but her swimmers could feel her power when they competed in a meet against Phoenix Pinnacle at Brophy on Thursday (Sept. 28), for the first time with her not pacing up and down the edge of the pool.

Rankin’s four senior captains – Katie McCoy, Thea Cartier, Mary Roediger and Kate Hubbard -- have bonded together to an even greater degree and have tried to pass on that strength to the younger girls. One of the freshman swimmers is Rankin’s 14-year-old daughter, Mia.

Assistant coach Jenny James will assume a lot of Rankin’s duties, but James will be helped by Rankin’s husband, Mark, who has coached at various levels, including Masters and younger. The Rankins were swimmers at the University of Arizona, where Mo was a nine-time All-American, and continued to swim at Masters events. Mark was on hand for Thursday’s meet.

Mo was honored with a moment of silence before the races began, as well as a prayer.

Asked how the girls were holding up, James said, “This community at Xavier is like no other. The support we have received from Xavier and Brophy has been very beneficial to our girls.

“It is very tough right now to lose someone like that, a person so incredible, a role model as well as a coach, a wife and a mother. I think the girls feel like she would want them to keep going, to work hard. So we are going to do that and win state for her. It’s about keeping the team together as a family.’’

There was some initial discussion about not swimming against Pinnacle or in the Phoenix Country Day School Invitational, but that talk lasted only a few seconds. The invitational is in the morning on Saturday (8 a.m.) and the girls should have plenty of time to prepare for Rankin’s funeral mass at 3 p.m. at St. Francis Xavier Church on Central Avenue, not far from the Brophy pool.

McCoy said Rankin was her club coach when she was 10 and Roediger swam for her for about five years. They knew her well and were excited when Rankin joined the Gators for her first season in the fall of 2016.

“What happened to her was heartbreaking, but we can’t change that. We just have to swim with it, keep going. I think that’s what she would have wanted,’’ said McCoy, who as a junior was the state champion in 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke.

“She made everyone want to step up and improve themselves, so it’s important that we come together,’’ said Roediger, who swims the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard breaststroke and the anchor leg on a few of the relay teams.

Said Hubbard, who swims in the same events as McCoy, said the swimmers knew Mo was not feeling good, “but she would not allow us to see any weakness.’’

McCoy said when things got so bad, Mo stopped coming to practice “and that’s when we knew it was pretty bad. She didn’t want us to see her that way. She wanted us to remember her like she always was, full of energy.’’

Cartier, whose specialties are the 50- and 100-yard freestyles, said the team “believes we can carry through all the way. She brought a lot of passion to us.’’

That passion was exemplified when Roediger was a club swimmer. Mo had given birth to a son, Luke (now 11), “and she just brought her playpen with her to the pool and put him in there so he could see everything that was going on. She just wanted to be there, teaching her swimmers.’’

All four of the seniors were in agreement when the power of Mo’s voice was mentioned.

“There wasn’t much doubt when you heard that voice during a race,’’ Hubbard said. “Even if there were thousands of people (yelling), you would be able to pick it out.’’

Said McCoy: “Yeah, she could be kind of loud when we were in a room. It was like you wanted to say, “You’re using your outside voice,’ but I don’t think she even had an inside voice.’’

Cartier will always remember the words of encouragement given to her by the coach when she was having shoulder problems at the time of the state meet a year ago.

“She gave me the best pep talk I have ever had,’’ Cartier said. “I made it to the finals (50 free). It was great.

“She was always like a second mother to me.’’

The rest of the Gators probably could say the same thing. Mo Rankin had that kind of impact.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Hard work pays off for golf medalist Cons

State championships are grand, but it is moments like these that warm a coach’s heart.

Xavier Prep golf coach and athletic director Sr. Lynn Winsor had watched junior Emily Cons gain maturity through the early part of the season and on Wednesday (Sept. 27), it paid off.

Cons shot a 3-under-par 33 to earn medalist honors as Xavier defeated Tempe Corona del Sol 153-192 in the Gators’ final match at Phoenix Country Club. Xavier will have one, possibly two more “home’’ matches at Camelback Golf Club. The team is due to play Phoenix Horizon on Oct. 4.

“We are very proud of Emily. She did a great job,’’ Winsor said. “She has worked very hard to break into the top group. And we are proud of all our girls who played today.’’

Cons said that her approach shots and putts were working for her.

“I have been practicing the short game and putting,’’ she said.

Her best hole, she said, was on No. 1.

“I got my third shot really close to the pin,’’ she said.

“I have been playing pretty well. I have not been focusing on the score so much as playing the best I can, one (hole) by one.’’

Others in the team-scoring group were freshman Bailee Tayles 37, junior Laura Lu 40, freshman Mary Doss 43 and sophomore Danae Bravo 51.

Xavier had five more golfers participate. They were sophomore Millburn Ho 34, junior Eve Worden 37, sophomore Breyana Matthews 38, freshman Lauren Garcia 40 and junior Holly Otlewski 43.

Volleyball tops Chandler, on to Nike tourney

Playing for the second night in a row, Xavier Prep’s volleyball team scored a 3-0 sweep of host Chandler High on Wednesday (Sept. 27). Scores were 25-11, 25-14 and 25-23.

The top two players were outside hitters Briana McKnight and Lanie Wagner. McKnight, a sophomore, had 14 kills and 10 digs. Wagner, a senior, had 10 kills and 3 blocks.

Junior Ashley Yeung had a pair of service aces, senior libero Alyna Draper had 25 digs, junior setter Kate Spellman had 15 assists and junior setter Shannon Shields had 26 assists.

Xavier (16-1) moves on to play in the annual Nike Tournament of Champions beginning on Friday (Sept. 29) and continuing Saturday (Sept. 30).

The Arizona State University Fitness Center will be the site of most of the matches involving the Gators. Address is 400 E. Apache Boulevard, Tempe.

Pool play highlights the action on Friday. Xavier is in Pool G along with Sacred Heart of Louisville, Ky., Leon of Tallahassee, Fla., and Beckman of Irvine, Calif.

The Gators’ first match on Friday will be at 10:30 a.m. against Sacred Heart. Leon follows at 12:30 p.m. and Beckman at 3:30. Matches are best-of-three instead of the normal best-of-five.

Play resumes on Saturday with a qualifying match at 9:30 a.m., then bracket play depending on the outcome of the qualifiers.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Volleyball sweep of Basha is deceptive

A volleyball team has to do quite a few things right to post a 3-0 sweep of an opponent.

Yet Xavier Prep coach Lamar-Renee Bryant seemed a bit disappointed in her team’s play when the Gators defeated host Chandler Basha 3-0 on Tuesday night (Sept. 26). Scores were 25-15, 25-17 and 25-15.

Xavier raised its record to 15-1 while Basha slipped to 16-5.

“The outcome was good, but it really was not a good match,’’ said Bryant, who pointed to some service and passing miscues that lessened the impact of the outcome.

“It was like we did not want to compete,’’ Bryant added. “We weren’t the team I know we can be.’’

From Bryant’s perspective, it certainly wasn’t something she wanted to see as the Gators travel to face Chandler High on Wednesday night (Sept. 27) and then compete in the prestigious Nike Invitational Tournament of Champions on Friday (Sept. 29) and Saturday (Sept. 30) in Tempe and Phoenix.

The coach limited the playing time of some of her girls and that opened the door for others such as junior outside hitter Hayley Nash, who had a solid all-around effort.

“Hayley made a huge contribution,’’ Bryant said. “By her actions, she said, “I think I need to have a little more playing time.’ ’’

Bryant wasn’t quite sure what led to the team’s subpar play.

She said that Basha coach Terri Spann has coached some of the Gators with the Arizona Storm club team “and maybe she got into some of their heads, I don’t know.’’

A service ace by junior setter Shannon Shields sealed the deal for the Gators in the first game. Another ace, this time by senior outside hitter Lanie Wagner, but XCP over the top in the second game. And a kill by junior outside hitter Trinity Cavanaugh finished off the Bears in the third game.

Bryant thought that junior setter Kate Spellman and junior defensive specialist/libero Ashley Yeung provided some energy at certain points.

Nike tournament – Xavier will play in Pool G to open the 96-team tournament on Friday. The Gators will play three pool matches at Arizona State’s Sun Devil Fitness Center at 400 E. Apache Boulevard. First match is 10:30 a.m. but parking might be hard to come by because school will be in session.

Brackets for Saturday’s play are expected to be announced on Wednesday with some of the final rounds split between the Sun Devil Fitness Center and the Salvation Army Kroc Center at 13th Street and Broadway Road in Phoenix. Xavier is due to play four more matches on Saturday. Matches are limited to the best-of-three instead of the normal best-of-five.

About three dozen teams from Arizona are on the list of participants. Xavier finished fifth in the Gold Division in the 2016 Nike.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sophs compete in national tennis event

There will be plenty of excitement for Xavier Prep sophomores Emily Even and Erica Stutz this weekend when they represent Arizona in the U.S. Tennis Association’s junior national tournament in Orlando, Fla.

The two players burst on the scene for the Gators a year ago, playing freshman tennis in the fall and graduating to the varsity for the spring, where they made significant contributions.

“Emily in particular has come a long way in such an incredibly short time,’’ said Xavier coach Laurie Martin. “She has a ton of natural power and is becoming a lot better at controlling things on the court.’’

Stutz has been one of the area’s top age-group players for quite some time. She continues to develop her skills that should carry her a long way.

“It’s going to be exciting to watch these two here over the next three years,’’ Martin said.

Even said she has known Martin since the fifth grade, when she participated in various camps.

“I’ve heard about and watched some of the great players who have gone before me, and it gave me a desire to play here,’’ Even said.

She has a good athletic heritage. Her sister, Kate, played volleyball for XCP a few years ago.

“My improvement has come through a lot of hard work,’’ Even said. “The coaches I have had along the way saw something in me, and that helped give me confidence.’’

The support she has received from her teammates also has been helpful.

One thing that helps her during a match is that she is able to focus on her breathing.

“I just tell myself to relax and do it just like I do in practice,’’ she said.

The academic aspect of being at Xavier is something that required an adjustment.

“It entails a lot more work and you have to make sure you are prepared,’’ she said. “I did OK during freshman tennis but the varsity (time commitments) was a lot tougher. There were times when I would not get home until nine at night and still had to do some homework. Now it’s a lot better. I know what to expect.’’

Stutz said she has heard stories that her father bought her a racquet before she was even born.

“So I have been swinging a racquet for a long time and have been practicing every day since I was five,’’ she said. “I am thankful for all of the opportunities I have had.’’

Sportsmanship is important. Stutz recently received an award for that from the Central Arizona chapter of the USTA. And she is involved in community projects.

One of the projects is a tennis and soccer equipment gathering and distribution program for young people in northern Mexico. Stutz said the equipment is shuttled from Tucson to the Nogales area for distribution.

She also is involved in the National Charity League.

“I have always loved working with people and like to do so any chance I can,’’ Stutz said.

On the court, she tries not to get too excited about a good shot or hang her head when a shot doesn’t fall in her favor.

“A lot of people show emotion, but I try not to do that,’’ she said. “I used to yell once in awhile when I was younger. I still get angry but now I realize that I am healthiest when I am happy.’’

A good showing by Stutz and Even this weekend would make everybody happier.

Mountain bikers 9th in Prescott races

The mountain biking team from Xavier Prep and Brophy Prep finished ninth on Sunday (Sept. 24) in its second race of the season at Pioneer Park in Prescott.

The Gators scored 2,583 points. The winner was Prescott High, with 3,164.

XCP also had a strong effort among individual riders.

In the sophomore race, Erin Hill placed fourth with 472 points, Heather Kwapiszeski was fifth with 464 and Samantha Sandoval was 11th with 420.

The Gators’ Natalie Fuchs was 18th in the freshman race with 380 points.

Race #3 of the five-race season is coming up on Oct. 8 at the Wren Arena in Sierra Vista. Start time is 9 a.m.

Badminton leaves opponents with blank page

Xavier Prep’s badminton athletes sure like playing at home.

In Monday’s (Sept. 25) regular-season home finale, the Gators had a strong effort against Phoenix Mountain Pointe with a 9-0 victory.

It gave the Gators a 10-1 overall record and 5-0 mark at home. The home record is noteworthy because each of the wins has been by a shutout.

XCP had three road matches remaining, as well as a tournament.

The Gators will face Chandler High on Thursday (Sept. 28) and will travel to meet Gilbert Perry on Oct. 3 and Chandler Basha on Oct. 5.

Xavier will participate in the Independence Invite on Saturday (Sept. 30) at Glendale Independence. Start time is 9 a.m.

Results vs. Mountain Pointe


Maddie Reinhart, X, def. Mountain Pointe, 11-7, 11-5.

Alexa Wolfson, X, def. Mountain Pointe, 11-2, 11-0.

Mimi Zurbriggen, X, def. Mountain Pointe, 11-2, 11-7.

Misaal Irfan, X, def. Mountain Pointe, 11-0, 11-0.

Maeve Lee, X, def. Mountain Pointe, 11-3, 11-0.

Anai Hernandez, X, def. Mountain Pointe, 11-0, 11-0.


Reinhart-Wolfson, X, def. Mountain Pointe, 15-8, 15-0.

Zurbriggen-Rebecca Ryan, X, def. Mountain Pointe, 15-4, 15-2.

Hernandez-Maddie Dines, X, def. Mountain Pointe, 15-1, 15-2.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Remembering Coach "Mo": She did it the right way

I really enjoyed working with Maureen “Mo’’ Rankin, who took over as Xavier Prep swimming coach in the fall of 2016 and had the Gators on track for a possible state championship this season.

The former University of Arizona swimmer and club coach in the Valley knew how to deal with her athletes because she had been one. She knew when to push the discipline button and when to let up and switch to the fun button.

This year’s team is filled with talented swimmers and divers, many of them freshmen, including Rankin’s daughter, Mia. They have already shown a great deal of talent and maturity beyond their years.

Rankin had hoped to continue to see them flourish, all the way to the state meet.

Sadly, that will not happen. Coach Rankin passed away early on Monday (Sept. 25) after battling cancer. She was treated for the disease over the last year and was confident things were back to normal as the season was set to begin. We occasionally talked about cancer because I also had it and had some minor surgery.

Swimming coach Maureen "Mo'' Rankin was a great asset to the Xavier community.

Except that I had skin cancer. Compared to what she had, it was a drop in the bucket. We would ask how the other was feeling.

I went to visit her and the XCP swimmers during their intrasquad meet at Brophy on Aug. 25.

For a few moments, we slipped into a nearby cool office to chat. She seemed a bit preoccupied, aside from the usual things a coach as to do to keep everybody on schedule.

“How are you doing?’’ I asked.

Color drained from her face. She looked toward the floor, sighed and nearly broke into tears.

“It’s back,’’ she said.

Hearing that nearly took my breath away. I knew how hard she had worked to come back and now this . . .

She also had become a valuable member of the office staff, working in the school’s finance department. She seemed to be enjoying it.

My wife and I prayed for her and her family, her husband, Mark, Mia, and son Luke. And her swimmers.

A week or so later, Rankin sent a note to the athletic office that was forwarded to staffers, thanking everyone for their support.

I sent a note to her, saying that she was in my thoughts and prayers.

“I have worked with you long enough to know that you will fight this thing in every way possible, with strength and humility,’’ I wrote.

She thanked me and wrote, “I plan on beating this. I’ve done it once already.’’

Strength, humility, faith and more. Her family, swimmers and those of us in the Xavier community should all be proud of her.

Rest in peace, Coach Mo.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Running depth carries Gators in Conley

A true indication of Xavier Prep’s cross-country depth was revealed on Saturday (Sept. 23) in the annual Doug Conley Invitational at Shalimar Golf Course in Tempe.

Gators coach Dave Van Sickle was holding out his top five runners to prepare for Friday’s (Sept. 29) Desert Twilight event in Casa Grande, but the team still managed to win the Elite and Non-Varsity (5,000 meters) divisions.

Xavier had 68 points to win the Elite, and Gilbert Highland finished second with 79 points. Xavier won the Non-Varsity with 21 points, and Highland was second with 43.

Freshman Jamie Stelnik was the top XVP individual finisher in the Elite race, crossing the line in 10th place at 18:59.1.

Other Gators in the Elite: senior Caroline Liddy 11th at 19:07.2, junior Karina Hawkins 13th at 19:09.5, junior Karina Smith 18th at 19:21.4, freshman Cami Merickel 20th at 19:39.6 and sophomore Kristen Keeble 37th at 20:09.1.

Xavier’s win in the Non-Varsity race was highlighted by a 1-4 individual finish.

Junior Karli Baker went No. 1 at 20:08.3, senior Annika Nielson went No. 2 at 20:12.8, senior Abbie Conrad went No. 3 at 20:13.2 and sophomore Grace Valandra went No. 4 at 20:19.2.

Other Gators in the Non-Varsity: freshman Sophia Healy 11th at 20:55.8, junior Josie Venezia 20th at 21:22.4, junior Megan Woodbury 57th at 21:39.6, junior Arden Smith 85th at 23:15.8, freshman Carolina Calihan 87th at 23:18.3 and freshman Emma Chester 140th at 24:37.4.

Team scores


Xavier Prep 21, Gilbert Highland 43, Mesa Mountain View 115, Mesa Red Mountain 152, Scottsdale Chaparral 153, Gilbert Perry 159, Phoenix Desert Vista 172, Chandler Hamilton 246, Gilbert Higley 262, Tempe Corona del Sol 299, Windor Rock 360, Mesa Skyline 376, Peoria Liberty 379, Surprise Shadow Ridge 395, Prescott 416, Tempe 475, Phoenix Pinnacle 509, Tempe McClintock 565, Surprise Willow Canyon 591, Anthem Boulder Creek 634, Cave Creek Cactus Shadows 656, Casa Grande 672, Tucson Rincon 695, El Mirage Dysart 707, Fountain Hills 733, Surprise Paradise Honors 775, Tempe Marcos de Niza 781, Surprise Valley Vista 790, Phoenix Carl Hayden 793, Phoenix Sierra Linda 899.


Xavier Prep 68, Gilbert Highland 79, Mesa Red Mountain 160, Gilbert Perry 169, Mesa Mountain View 183, Phoenix Mountain Pointe 189, Tucson Rincon 202, Scottsdale Chaparral 229, Tempe Corona del Sol 230, Chinle 245, Prescott 253, Anthem Boulder Creek 269, Window Rock 292, Tuba City 300, Mesa Skyline 351, Surprise Shadow Ridge 357, Glendale Prep 370.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Golfers leave tourney foes in the dust

Xavier Prep’s golf team won its fourth tournament of the season on Saturday (Sept. 23), leaving its competitors far in the distance at the Brophy-Xavier Invitational at the Grand Canyon University Golf Course in west Phoenix.

Xavier (11-0) had all eight finish in succession, led by medalist Ashley Menne (the top five totals go toward the team score).

The Gators won the tournament’s second edition by more than 100 strokes over Scottsdale Desert Mountain and Tempe Corona del Sol. There were about six teams originally scheduled to play as there were a year ago, but the observance of the Jewish holiday caused cancellation by a handful of teams.

“We decided to go ahead and play rather than having no teams on our (girls’) side, said Xavier co-coach and athletic director Sr. Lynn Winsor. “Next year, we will be more vigilant of the schedule and have this where it doesn’t conflict with anything else.’’

Menne, a sophomore, added another first-place individual trophy to her collection by shooting a 6-under-par 65 on Friday’s (Sept. 22) first day and a 4-under 67 on Saturday for a 10-under total of 132.

Freshman Breyana Matthews shot a 1-under 70 on Saturday to finish at 3-over for the tournament, good for second place.

Sophomore Millburn Ho was next at 6-over, followed by junior Eve Worden at 11-over, and freshman Lauren Garcia at 13-over.

The Gators had three extra players, and their scores were . . .

Freshman Mary Doss at 6-over, junior Emily Cons at 9-over and freshman Baylee Tayles at 16-over.

“This was a good test for us,’’ Winsor said. “The more experience you get on these different courses, the better off you are.

“The course was in good shape and we played very well. When you first see the course, it kind of looks easy but that isn’t the case at all. The goal is not to get the ball in the bunkers, of course, but it probably will happen at some point. The bunkers here are big and you have to hit the ball well to get it out.’’

Xavier has just one match this coming week, on Wednesday (Sept. 27) against Corona del Sol and Scottsdale Chaparral at Phoenix Country Club. Tee time is 3 p.m.

Seniors highlight badminton victory

Senior Day always is a special time for the athletes to be honored by underclassmen and their coaches.

Four Xavier Prep badminton players shared the spotlight on Friday (Sept. 22). The Gators came through with an 8-1 victory over visiting Chandler Hamilton at the Activity Center.

Maddie Reinhart, Alexa Wolfson, Mimi Zurbriggen and Rebecca Ryan listened to speeches from teammates and received small bouquets and some sweet treats before the start of the match.

Coach Susan Contreras said it was better to have the ceremony on Friday than before the final home match of the season on Monday (Sept. 25) against Phoenix Mountain Pointe. Xavier is 9-1 entering that match.

“It’s hard to keep your focus, but we managed to stay focused and did well,’’ she said of Friday’s match.

Reinhart and Wolfson got Xavier off to a good start in singles with victories. Reinhart won 11-5 and 11-1 and Wolfson won 11-1 and 11-0.

Reinhart struggled a bit in her first match. She was down 4-0 before she got her act together and produced a comeback.

“There are times when Maddie has been down early or even lost her first game, but she listens to what the coaches say (in between games) about what she needs to do to make corrections that need to be made and usually does it,’’ Contreras said.

The Gators earned a day off from practice on Saturday (Sept. 23). After Monday’s match, the team will play at Chandler High on Sept. 28 and participate in the Independence Invitational on Sept. 30 at Glendale Independence.

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.

Golf win over Notre Dame keeps XCP unbeaten

Xavier Prep’s golf team had three of the top four finishers and kept its unbeaten string intact with a 140-155 victory over Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep on Thursday (Sept. 13) at Phoenix Country Club. The event was a make-up from the originally scheduled Aug. 29 match.

Sophomore Ashley Menne again was atop the leaderboard with a 2-under-par 34. Junior Holly Otlewski and freshman Mary Doss each shot a 1-under 35, good enough for a second-place tie with Notre Dame’s Jordan Weaver.

The Gators will play again on Wednesday (Sept. 20) against Phoenix St. Mary’s at the Cave Creek Golf Course in north Phoenix.

Xavier scores

Ashley Menne 34 (-2), Holly Otlewski 35 (-1), Mary Doss 35 (-1), Millburn Ho 36 (E), Eve Worden 36 (E), Bailee Tayles 36 (E), Lauren Garcia 37 (+1), Madeline Brown 38 (+2), Laura Lu 39 (+3), Emily Cons 41 (+5), Lauren Faulkner 42 (+6), Danae Bravo 49 (+13).

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Gator volleyball stages epic comeback

There is no other way to say it.

Volleyball fans witnessed one of the most stunning high school sports reversals possible on Wednesday night (Sept. 13).

Down 0-2 in the best-of-five meeting between unbeaten 6A Premier Region rivals, Xavier found new life in Game 3 and beyond to take the match against host Gilbert Perry. Scores were 17-25, 14-25, 25-23, 25-21 and 15-13.

Afterward, it seemed the Gators themselves almost were as stunned as Perry’s Pumas.

Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant walked toward the bench to gather her belongings and her thoughts. She smiled and shook her head.

“That was fun. That was insane,’’ she said.

Bryant said that as the tide began to turn against Perry, she referred to a marathon 32-30 victory over Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor that sealed that match the night before as an example of never giving up.

“They (Perry) were kicking our tails, taking some big swings,’’ Bryant said. “We were too passive and they tore us apart.’’

The size and strength of the Pumas, who were 13-0, including eight in the recent House of Payne Invitational tournament at Chandler High, were taking a toll.

But somehow, some way, Xavier found new life and sits at 6-0 as it travels to Las Vegas for the prestigious Durango Classic on Friday (Sept. 15) and Saturday (Sept. 16). The Gators are expected to play seven games in that event.

Against Perry, the Gators battled back to record a 25-23 victory in the third game, finished off by a kill from senior outside hitter Lanie Wagner.

The fourth game went back and forth, with a 19-19 tie entering the home stretch. Sophomore outside hitter Bri McKnight had a strong effort at the net both offensively and defensively and had a key service ace to make it 23-20 Xavier. Wagner again stepped up for a decisive kill and the momentum had officially shifted.

Xavier led midway through the third game, but Perry rallied for a 12-11 lead (fifth and deciding games only go to 15 points). Wagner again rose to the occasion, getting three kills in the Gators’ final four points.

Asked how Xavier did it, Wagner said, “I don’t know. We obviously didn’t play well those first two games, so we figured we had nothing to lose. We came out and played our best.’’

Before the season began, Wagner talked about improving her game since last season, playing club ball and with the Gators during the preseason. Near the top were her vision and overall court sense.

Some of her kills were along the sideline instead of the middle, and that helped the Gators regroup.

“I tried to see the whole court before I hit,’’ Wagner said. “I saw that the block (blockers) wasn’t close, so I tried to hit it in the best place that I could.’’

The two teams will play a rematch, this time at Xavier, on Oct. 18.

Golf, badminton produce victories

Xavier Prep’s golf and badminton teams triumphed on Wednesday (Sept. 13).

The golfers returned to their Phoenix Country Club home and defeated Phoenix Pinnacle, 136-145.

Sophomore Ashley Menne took medalist honors with a 6-under-par 30.

Other Xavier scores:

Junior Emily Cons, 1-under 35 (tie for third), freshman Mary Doss, 35, (tie for third), junior Eve Worden, even-par 36 (fifth), sophomore Breyana Matthews, 1-over-par 37 (tie for sixth), junior Holly Otlewski, 37 (tie for sixth), junior Laura Lu, 2-over-par 38 (tie for ninth), sophomore Millburn Ho, 38 (tie for ninth), freshman Lauren Garcia, 3-over-par 39 (12th), freshman Bailee Tayles, 5-over-par 41 (tie for 14th), senior Madeline Brown, 41 (tie for 14th), sophomore Danae Bravo, 7-over-par 43 (17th), senior Lauren Faulkner, 9-over-par 45 (19th) and sophomore Sydney Trout, 13-over-par 49 (20th).

The Gators will play a make-up match against Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep on Thursday at 3 p.m. at Phoenix Country Club. After that, the team will return to the course on Sept. 20 against Phoenix St. Mary’s at the Cave Creek Golf Course in Phoenix.


Xavier suffered its first loss of the season, 5-4, in a makeup match at Phoenix Desert Vista on Tuesday (Sept. 12), but rebounded with a 6-3 road win at Phoenix Horizon on Wednesday (Sept. 13).

The Gators (6-1) are due to play a match for the third straight day on Thursday (Sept. 14), a home encounter with Anthem Boulder Creek.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Wheels keep on turning for mountain bikers

Interest in the sport of mountain biking continues to climb for potential competitors at Xavier Prep.

The Xavier contingent is in its fourth year of an alliance with all-male Brophy Prep in the Arizona Interscholastic Cycling League.

Participation in the sport at Xavier now has reached double digits (10). Skill levels vary. XCP-BCP coach Rich Perrott said three Gator riders participated in most of last year’s events. Now the team has four event competitors with two or three others on the verge of taking the next step.

Xavier-Brophy competes in Division I (there also is a Division II). Perrott estimates there are about 900 riders from schools across the state.

The maturation process for Xavier riders reached a new level in the first race of the season, on Sunday (Sept. 10) at Fort Tuthill Park in Flagstaff. Xavier will have four more races, on Sept. 24 at Pioneer Park in Prescott, on Oct. 8 at the Wren Arena in Sierra Vista, on Oct. 22 at the McDowell Mountain Park in Fountain Hills and on Nov. 5 at the White Tank Mountain Regional Park in the west Valley (Waddell). All races begin at 9 a.m.

“We are beyond happy. We finally got someone up on the podium (top five finishers),’’ Perrott said.

It came in the girls’ sophomore race, and Heather Kwapiszeski nipped teammate Erin Hill at the finish line.

Xavier sophomore Heather Kwapiszeski, far right, earned a spot among the mountain biking elite with a fifth-place finish in last weekend's race in Flagstaff. (Photo courtesy of Rich Perrott).

Perrott, who is assisted by Blake McClelland and Kevin Hill, said both riders are outstanding athletes with a great deal of versatility.

“Erin has played basketball and Heather has been in soccer and cross country,’’ he said.

“Heather was very excited about her accomplishment. She joined us last year as kind of a casual bike rider, but she has turned into a very tenacious racer. The sky is the limit.’’

As a team, Xavier-Brophy finished in eighth place. It was a good place to start. Sierra Vista Buena won by a single point over Prescott High.

The race course at Flagstaff featured a 5.8-mile loop with a 344-foot climb per lap. The older, more experienced riders go as long as four laps while the sophomores and freshmen go two laps. The races go in a counterclockwise direction.

Xavier’s Sam Sandoval finished 15th in the sophomore race and Natalie Fuchs finished 17th in the freshman race.

So it is back to work for the Gators this week. The girls and their Brophy compadres usually have trail rides on Tuesdays and Saturdays (when there is no race on Sunday) and a “spin’’ session on Thursdays.

Perrott said if a student expresses an interest in mountain biking, they can use one of 10 “loaner’’ bikes and helmets to see if they like it, and includes consultation with the parents.

“We have seen a lot of growth and hope to see more,’’ Perrott said. “Sister Lynn and the athletic department at Xavier have been very supportive of us.’’

Xavier Prep Mountain Biking roster

Lulu Castro (Jr.), Natalie Fuchs (Fr.), Charlotte Heffron (So.), Erin Hill (So.), Yacinta Irakoze (Jr.), Heather Kwapiszeski (So.), Sydney Larriva (So.), Isabella Plumb (Jr.), Sam Sandoval (So.), Catherine Wandachowicz (So.).

Monday, September 11, 2017

Gator swim-dive wins Wolves Classic

The Xavier Prep swimming and diving season just keeps getting better.

The Gators came up with another powerful early season finish on Saturday (Sept. 9) with a victory in the Wolves Classic at Chandler High School. Approximately two dozen schools competed from around the state.

Xavier scored a 264-254 victory over Chandler. The point total included diving which was held Tuesday (Sept. 5). Xavier junior Alyssa Largay won the event with 404.35 points. Junior Molly Cahill was eighth at 322.30, junior Talle Donley was ninth at 309.20 and sophomore Hannah Jemsek was 13th at 275.85.

The 200-yard medley relay team got the Gators off to a quick start by winning the first event on Saturday. The four girls who competed were freshman Sydney Millane, freshman Paola Guerra, sophomore Olivia Paliscak and freshman Kelly Scott.

Freshman Mia Rankin had an impressive finish in the 500-yard freestyle, moving up from second place to the front late in the race to win it.

Adding to the Xavier points total by finishing in the top eight of their events and recording state provisional times were sophomore Vica Dow in the 100- and 200-yard freestyles, Scott in the 50-yard freestyle and Guerra in the 100-yard breaststroke.

The Gators will swim again on Thursday (Sept. 14) with a dual meet against Chandler Hamilton at the Brophy Prep pool. Start time is 4 p.m.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Freshman Braun, XCP runners finish strong

Freshman Sammy Braun wanted to make her first cross-country meet special, and her Xavier Prep teammates also wanted to make their first meet of the season a moment to remember.

Mission accomplished, and then some.

The Gators had a stunning performance in the three races of the day on Saturday (Sept. 9) in the Fountain Hills Invite at Fountain Hills Park.

With Braun leading the way, Xavier had six of their seven runners finish in the top 10 of the 5K varsity race, and the Gators posted a team-winning 20 points. Mesa Mountain View was a distant second with 92 points and Phoenix Mountain Pointe was third with 99.

Junior Karli Baker won the 5K junior-senior race, and Xavier rolled to another team triumph in the 5K freshman-sophomore race as sophomore Kristen Keeble finished in second place.

The way the varsity girls came through was even more impressive, considering the fact that the team’s five seniors were absent because they were taking SAT exams.

It will be interesting to see how those five are woven into the team’s fabric as the season moves forward.

“The first meet is always a test, and this was a very good sign,’’ said Xavier coach Dave Van Sickle.

“Practice after practice after practice, you never really know how things will go together in a meet. One thing we know is the girls are very fit, and it showed. We have girls who are racers out there, not just runners.’’

Xavier runners are happy after dominating in the Fountain Hills Invite (photo by Don Ketchum).
Braun fits into that category, for sure.

She was elated about her performance. She was timed in 19:09.9.

“I was nervous,’’ she said. “I had been working all summer to get to this point.

“We have a great team and we were looking forward to this meet. We communicated pretty well, especially at the start. We were telling each other, “You’re good, you’re good,’ when we were trying to get into position. I think we felt really good about that. And sometimes you don’t have to say anything, you can just feel each other out there.’’

It was a sprint to the finish line, and Braun crossed it first, 2.1 seconds ahead of Mountain View’s Kailey Welch.

How did Braun approach that situation?

“I just tell myself, “Don’t look back. Just make sure you finish,’ ’’ she said.

Other Xavier efforts in the varsity race:

Freshman Cami Merickel, third, 19:20.1; junior Helen Innes, fifth, 19:27.1; sophomore Mia Olsen, sixth, 19:31.7; junior Karina Hawkins, ninth, 19:48.9, freshman Jamie Stelnik, 10th, 19:49.2; and junior Karina Smith, 13th, 20:20.3.

Xavier had only three runners in the junior-senior race, making the Gators ineligible for team honors (five runners were mandatory). But the Gators still made a big statement.

Baker had a time of 21:29.6. Junior Josie Venezia was fourth at 22:05.2 and junior Megan Woodbury was 18th at 24:26.1.

Xavier scored 24 points in the freshman-sophomore race, with Scottsdale Saguaro second at 110 and Phoenix Horizon third at 111.

Results for XCP runners in the freshman-sophomore race:

Keeble second, 20:46.6; sophomore Grace Valandra, third, 21:53.2; freshman Joey Hernanez, fourth, 21:56.3; sophomore Kaitlyn Lauck, eighth, 22:45.9; freshman Sophia Healy, 11th, 22:49.5; sophomore Hannah Phillippi, 19th, 23:32.6; freshman Caroline Calihan, 33rd, 25:06.1; sophomore Mikayla Chavez, 74th, 28:17.4; freshman Emma Chester, 78th, 28:27.8.

The Gators will have a couple more weeks to tune up for their next meet, the annual Doug Conley Invite on Sept. 23 at the Shalimar Golf Course in Tempe.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Golf opponents learn that Gators are tough

A young man who was helping to post scores on the leaderboard for Thursday’s (Sept. 7) Aguila Invitational looked at Xavier Prep’s low total and said, “I’ve got to get over to Xavier and learn how to play golf.’’

Sorry, son, you’re not eligible and if you were, it likely would take a Herculean effort to surpass the golfers already in place.

The numbers spoke for themselves.

Bolstered by an impressive 10-under-par 62 from sophomore Ashley Menne, the Gators finished with a victorious 11-under 277, 17 shots ahead of second place Mesa Red Mountain (294) and 19 ahead of third place Goodyear Millennium (296).

Menne was five shots better than second-place finisher Kelly Su of Scottsdale Chaparral (67). Su and Menne finished 1-2 at the recent Antigua Invitational.

“We played great today,’’ said Xavier co-coach Tui Selvaratnam. “Ashley had maybe the round of her life. As a team, we have great camaraderie, which is nice to see. And the parents really come out to support the girls. It’s a lot of fun.’’

With Menne and sophomore Millburn Ho (75) sinking mid-range putts to finish their day, a gallery of Xavier teammates and parents shouted their approval from the edge of the 18th green. Ho, who is showing continued improvement, birdied her last two holes.

“This should help give us some momentum because our schedule will continue to be busy,’’ Selvaratnam said.

There were no bunker shots allowed in the tournament due to recent monsoon damage. So the golfers were able to take a drop closest to the spot where the ball went in. Selvaratnam said that Menne only had to do that once.

The Gators next will play host to Phoenix Pinnacle on Wednesday (Sept. 13) at Phoenix Country Club, with a 3 p.m. start time.

Xavier individual scores

1 Ashley Menne (So.), 62 (-10). Tie-4 Breyana Matthews, (Fr.) 69 (-3). Tie-11 Eve Worden (Jr.), 72 (E). Tie-15 Lauren Garcia (Fr.), 74 (+2). 17 Millburn Ho (So.) 75 (+3).

Team scores

Xavier Prep 277, Mesa Red Mountain 294, Goodyear Millennium 296, Phoenix Pinnacle 308, Chandler Hamilton 308, Phoenix Horizon 322, Scottsdale Chaparral 322, Gilbert Highland 322, Phoenix Desert Vista 329, Mesa Desert Ridge 331, Scottsdale Desert Mountain 352, Gilbert Perry 354, Queen Creek Casteel 378, Phoenix Arcadia 379, Tempe Corona del Sol 380, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor 395, Chandler High 415, Phoenix Mountain Pointe 420, Chandler Basha 459, Glendale Mountain Ridge 473.

A McKnight to remember for XCP volleyball

Xavier Prep’s volleyball team raised its record to 4-0 with a 3-0 sweep of Anthem Boulder Creek at the Activity Center on Thursday night (Sept. 7). Scores were 26-24, 25-17 and 25-20.

Sophomore outside hitter Bri McKnight had a big match for the Gators, finishing with nine kills and 17 digs. Sophomore middle blocker Jasmine Knight had eight kills, senior libero Alyna Draper had 20 digs and junior setter Shannon Shields had 27 assists.

The Gators’ next four events will be on the road.

They will travel to face Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor on Tuesday (Sept. 12) and Gilbert Perry on Wednesday (Sept. 13). Then the road takes them to Las Vegas for the high-profile Durango Classic (seven games total) on Sept. 15 and 16. They will be back in Arizona for a match at Gilbert Highland on Sept. 19.

Xavier’s next home match will be against Phoenix Desert Vista on Sept. 21.