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 8, 2015

Depth carries Gator v-ball past Mtn. Ridge

The road to the state championship can be filled with unexpected twists and turns.
So it is good for a volleyball team to develop depth.
Xavier Prep, with its sights set on a strong season and long run in the tournament, showed its depth on Tuesday night (Sept. 8).
Most all of the Gators got playing time, and the team scored a three-game sweep of host Glendale Mountain Ridge. Scores were 25-14, 25-8 and 25-23.
The Gators (2-0) will play their home opener on Thursday (Sept. 10) at 6 p.m. against Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.
“We’re excited to finally play our first home match,’’ said XCP coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.
“We were able to get some very good play from a lot of girls, got strong efforts from our “middles’ (middle blockers) and were able to work on some different formations.’’
Senior outside hitter Khalia Lanier had another big game, powering the ball for kills against the Mountain Lions (1-2).
Other noteworthy performances were by junior setter Cierra Flood and freshman opposite/setter Shannon Shields.
“She (Shields) had a great run,’’ Bryant said. “She has a great jump-serve (she is left-handed).’’
Shields has one of the most powerful serves that you want to see and she can mix it up by putting more touch on the ball.
As it did in its previous match at Chandler Basha, Xavier started a bit slow against Mountain Ridge with an early 3-0 deficit. The Gators caught their breath and finished off their opponent with an 11-2 run.
Xavier raced to a 10-1 lead in the second game and never looked back. Sophomore middle Alexis Diaz-Infante came up with some key plays.
Mountain Ridge put up more of a challenge in Game #3. Xavier trailed 22-21 when a player stepped under the net, but Mountain Ridge later did the same thing to give Xavier a 23-22 lead. The Gators then were able to maintain their advantage.
After the match against Sandra Day O’Connor, the Gators hit the road for two more matches, against potential title challenger Phoenix Sunnyslope (Sept. 15) and Mesa Mountain View (Sept. 16). Xavier then will be part of a talented group of teams competing in the Diablo Invitational in Las Vegas on Sept. 18-19.

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