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, November 6, 2014

Gators advance to volleyball semifinals

Xavier’s Division I defending champion volleyball team survived a tough first game against visiting Phoenix Horizon in a quarterfinal match on Thursday night (Nov. 6) and went on to defeat the Huskies in three straight games to advance to Saturday’s (Nov. 8) semifinals at Mesquite High in Gilbert.
The third-seeded Gators will meet second-seeded Chandler Hamilton in a rematch of sorts of last year’s title match. Hamilton advanced by defeating No. 7 seed Gilbert High.
No. 11 seed Horizon battled Xavier back and forth the entire first game before the Gators escaped with a 25-23 victory. Xavier went on to win Game #2, 25-19, and Game #3, 25-17.
Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant said the momentum gained by the first-game win carried over to the rest of the match.
“That played a large part for us. We have a young team and we needed it to maintain that consistency,’’ Bryant said.
“Overall, we played much better than we did in the first round (against Mesa Mountain View on Tuesday). This had more of a feel of a championship-type match.’’
Horizon had been the top seed a year ago and was eliminated by then-No. 5 Xavier in the semifinals, and the Huskies wanted to return the favor. Though they have it a strong effort, they couldn’t quite pull it off.
Bryant said senior Kate Even was a catalyst all night, performing many tasks to keep the Gators going.
“Kate was a firecracker for us, our emotional leader,’’ Bryant said.
The coach also pointed to the play of sophomore Makena Patterson at the net and the defense and setting by junior libero Kristen Largay as other key factors.

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