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, October 16, 2014

Gators gear up for tourney with win over Horizon

The XCP volleyball team tuned up for this weekend’s Nike Invitational tournament with a three-game sweep of host Phoenix Horizon on Wednesday night (Oct. 15).
Horizon, on the rebound this season with a lot of younger players after losing several to graduation, gave the Gators more of a challenge than in their two previous meetings this season.
Xavier trailed for part of Game #1, but straightened things out down the stretch for a 25-21 win with the help of some kills and floating placement shots by outside hitter Khalia Lanier.
Game #2 also was close, but Xavier hung on for a 25-20 triumph.
It appeared as though Horizon might push the Gators to a fourth game when the Huskies led 22-20. But Xavier rallied with the help of a couple of Horizon errors for a 25-22 win.
“We are in a tough, long stretch and we want to make sure we get the best possible result out of every touch (of the ball),’’ said Gators coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.
Against Horizon, Bryant said senior Kate Even helped greatly with the transition game and that sophomore Cierra Flood allowed the team to get some extra touches with her defense.
“That’s the kind of effort we will continue to need,’’ Bryant said.
The Gators will play three matches on Friday in the Nike. The tournament will be held at three locations, including the Kroc Center at 13th Street and Broadway Road in Phoenix, where Xavier will play.
Xavier will be in Pool F, along with Phoenix Mountain Pointe (Ahwatukee), Ralston (Colo.) and Valencia (Calif.).
Match times on Friday are 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.  Xavier could have three more matches on Saturday, if it reaches the title match of their division. Times would be 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

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