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.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Gators' loss to Hamilton in V-ball semis tough to take

A member of the XCP sports medicine staff filled three plastic bags with ice and carried them into the room where the school’s volleyball team was meeting after Saturday’s (Nov. 8) Division I state semifinal match against Chandler Hamilton.
She came back out a few moments later.
“Did you get them (players) all fixed up?’’ came the question.
“Bumps and bruises, yes. But it’s going to take longer for their hearts to heal,’’ the medic said.
It’s understandable, particularly when a team suffers a defeat such as the one the Gators did.
Xavier, the defending champion that entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed, was defeated by second-seeded Hamilton in five games, including the 16-14 setback in the fifth game at Gilbert’s Mesquite High.
Hamilton got a measure of revenge after a loss to Xavier in last year’s title game.
Xavier and Hamilton alternated victories over the first four games on Saturday before Hamilton came through in the finale.
Xavier won the opener 25-15, lost the second game 25-22, won the third game25-16 and fell in the fourth game25-15.
Perhaps the key game, momentum-wise, was the second. The two teams were deadlocked before Hamilton scored three straight points. Xavier came back to pull even at 22 on a service ace by libero Kristen Largay just inside the back line.
But Hamilton regained its composure to earn the final three points.
The match became a back-and-forth, nail-biting duel the rest of the way.
In the decisive fifth game, Hamilton jumped to an early lead, but Xavier came back to tie it at 12, 13 and 14 down the stretch. A kill shot by Hamilton made it 15-14 and the Huskies got the final point when an attempted kill by the Gators went into the net.
Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant was disappointed with the outcome, but was pleased with the overall effort throughout the season.
“We took a couple of things for granted and we kind of gave up Game 2 to them,’’ Bryant said.
The setback was especially difficult for the two outgoing seniors, Kate Even and Molly Scheel.
Asked what she would say to the two girls, Bryant said, “I would thank them for their time and their commitment. With Xavier volleyball, we ask a lot of the players emotionally and physically.
“It was a good year overall and I am proud of the girls. Except for the two seniors, we had pretty much a new team. But we came together and learned that we could lean on each other.’’

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