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, October 7, 2015

Foes beware: Gator v-ball keeps coming at you

It is a difficult thing for a volleyball team to have three of its top players sidelined with injuries, as it did for Tuesday night’s (Oct. 6) match at Peoria Liberty.
But the Gators still had Hope. And Makena. And two Kristens. And two Emmas. And Shannon. And Alyna. And Cierra. And Caroline. And Grace. And Alexis. And Trinity. And Kate.
Xavier has plenty of depth, and it showed in this match. Xavier squeaked by in the opening game (25-22), fell in the second (22-25) and rallied to win games 3 (25-22) and 4 (25-13) to win the match.
Senior outside hitter Khalia Lanier (ankle) and senior setter Callie Jones (finger) were out as they had been in recent matches, including the Nike tournament in Phoenix over the weekend. This time, it was sophomore outside hitter Lanie Wagner who was added to the list with a sore knee. It is uncertain when the players will return to action.
Xavier and Liberty battled back and forth most of the night, with a few of the games delayed as officials used a towel to remove water from a leaky roof that had dripped onto the court. 
The Gators took turns making key plays.
"They (Liberty) did a really good job against us, but fortunately we were able to come out on top,’’ said Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.
The coach said that senior libero Kristen Largay kept the Gators in the match with her aggressive defense all over the floor.
Bryant also gave credit to Alyna Draper, a sophomore, freshman Shannon Shields, junior Cierra Flood, and junior Makena Patterson. Junior Grace Morrison also came up with some big kills.
Freshman Trinity Cavanaugh, recently called up from the junior varsity to fortify the lineup, had some excellent serves in Game 4. She was in the right place at the right time.
“She had great service. You can see her confidence starting to build,’’ Bryant said.
Xavier (19-5) returns to its Activity Center home floor on Thursday night (Oct. 8) against Mesa Red Mountain.

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