DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four 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.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Big volleyball challenge awaits Gators in Las Vegas

Participating in this weekend’s Diablo Invitational at Durango High School in Las Vegas will offer the Xavier Prep volleyball team “an opportunity for growth,’’ according to coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.
“We look forward to this big challenge. We are looking for seven good matches in a row,’’ said Bryant, whose Gators will play on Friday (Sept. 19) and Saturday (Sept. 20).
Xavier’s first three matches on Friday will be against teams in its division, Saddleback Valley (Calif.) at 1 p.m., Lehi (Utah) at 3 p.m. and Thousand Oaks (Calif.) at 6 p.m.
Qualifying brackets and the tournament final rounds will be held Saturday.
Xavier ran its record to 7-1 with three matches this week, which included wins on the road over Mesa and Mesa Dobson and at home over Phoenix St. Mary’s.
“I think we are further along at this point this year than we were last (the Gators went on to win the Division I title), and hopefully we can continue that,’’ Bryant said.
The coach was happy to get some of her non-starters some playing time prior to the tournament, and hopes to get them more time during the tournament.
Junior setter/outside hitter Callie Jones has had a strong season thus far and says the Gators are ready for this next step.
“We need to keep communicating with each other and continue to work hard,’’ she said. “And we don’t want to underestimate anybody.’’
She also mentioned playing the Xavier style of volleyball.
And what is “Xavier volleyball?’
“It is being loud, having fun and still being competitive,’’ Jones said. “We hold ourselves to high expectations.’’

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