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.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Gators win volleyball opener, Horizon next

The XCP volleyball team won’t get much time to savor its three-game sweep of visiting Peoria Centennial to open the 2014 season on Tuesday night (Sept. 2).
The Gators play again on Wednesday night (Sept. 3) at 6 against visiting rival Phoenix Horizon, the team it defeated in the Division I semifinals on the way to winning the state championship last season.
“They (Horizon) have been our rivals for a long time, so you have to be ready for anything,’’ said XCP coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.
Horizon had one of the tallest teams in recent memory last season, but graduated most of those players.
“They are still a good team and they are still very dangerous,’’ Bryant said.
XCP took care of a solid Centennial team, winning 25-9, 25-20 and 25-20.
Bryant had a bit of concern entering the contest, saying her team needed to work on quite a few things after a three-way scrimmage with host Chandler Hamilton, Chandler Basha and Phoenix Sunnyslope last week.
Asked if the Gators had eased some of those concerns against Centennial, Bryant said, “We’re still in the learning process and we played pretty well.’’
Bryant was particularly pleased with her team’s blocking of Centennial returns, setting the Coyotes back on their heels.
Junior outside hitter Khalia Lanier showed flashes of power, but did not dominate as she has in some games. She got help from junior setter-outside hitter Callie Jones, junior libero Kristen Largay and sophomore middle blocker Makena Patterson. The 6-foot-3 Patterson was a factor with her blocks and should be even more of a factor as the season moves along.
The XCP junior varsity struggled against Centennial, falling 25-15 and 25-21. The Gator freshman team looked strong, taking wins of 25-10 and 25-11.

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