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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Volleyball learns hard way that Hamilton is for real

The Xavier Prep volleyball team got a big dose of reality on Tuesday night (Sept. 29).
The Gators came into their showdown with host Chandler Hamilton riding the crest of a 13-1 season, a season in which they hope to have a shot at taking the Division I state championship.
Hamilton, which defeated Xavier in last year’s semifinals, was on top of its game in every aspect in this one, pinning a three-game sweep on the Gators (23-25, 18-25 and 24-26).
Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant said she “has had better days’’ after a lengthy post-match team meeting. Hamilton (17-1) has lost only one game all season.
“We were overwhelmed,’’ Bryant said. “We couldn’t get into a rhythm.
“Hamilton outplayed us. We self-destructed.
“From the beginning of the match, they (Hamilton) were game-on. They were lights out. Their defense did not let the ball hit the ground.’’
Hamilton had about a half-dozen players with double figures in digs, and the Huskies neutralized Xavier’s big hitters, Khalia Lanier, Lanie Wagner and Makena Patterson.
Xavier also had a few injury issues.
First, senior setter Callie Jones has been out for a few weeks with a finger injury suffered in the recent Durango Fall Classic tournament in Las Vegas and the timetable for her return is uncertain, Bryant said.
That means junior Cierra Flood and freshman Shannon Shields will have to pick up the slack. They are getting better, Bryant said, but need to continue that trend.
Second, Lanier, a 6-foot-2 senior who is one of the top players in the nation, twisted an ankle during the third game of the match and was limited after that.
Bryant said the ankle will continue to be monitored and she won’t hesitate to keep Lanier out of the lineup for Thursday’s (Oct. 1) home match against Anthem Boulder Creek and for this weekend’s Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix.
“If we do our part, we will have a chance (to win),’’ Bryant said.

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