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, October 15, 2015

Largay sisters dive right in, lead the way for Xavier

It seems as if every high school has at least a couple of sibling groups who play on the same team in a certain sport. Having siblings who play separate sports at the same time is more of a rarity.
And so it is for Alyssa Largay and sister Kristen Largay at Xavier Prep.
Alyssa, a freshman, is coming into her own while diving off the board and into the pool, attempting to score points with a graceful technique.
Kristen, a senior, likes to dive, too, but not in the same way. She dives all over the volleyball floor as the Gators’ libero, trying to “dig’’ opponents’ return shots and attempting to set up teammates for their own big shots.

Senior volleyball player Kristen Largay (standing), and freshman diver Alyssa Largay give Xavier a rare combination.
Both started in gymnastics and evolved into their current sports. Kristen played some soccer but always came back to volleyball. Alyssa tried volleyball in the fifth grade, but liked diving a bit better and pursued that.
Of gymnastics, Kristen said, “I tried it but I wasn’t very good at it. You are playing dress-up. It’s kind of a “girly sport.’ I liked volleyball so much better, being part of a team.’’
Alyssa says diving has its own competitive nature, which she enjoys. Some sports, she said, require more training.
“It seems like five hours a night. Diving doesn’t take as much time and allows me to concentrate on school, which is just as important.’’
Along with Khalia Lanier and Callie Jones, Kristen is a senior co-captain. She said playing libero is the perfect spot for her.
“I might think about being an outside hitter, but I’m way too short,’’ said Kristen, who is 5-feet-6, at least six inches or shorter than power hitters such as the 6-2 Lanier.
“I like the libero because it is quicker. You don’t really have to jump. I think we are the worst jumping family around. Our dad (Jeff, a Brophy graduate) plays golf and our mom (Cindy) likes to run.’’
Both girls say they are thankful for supportive parents, and would like to continue their athletic pursuits in college.
Kristen will get there first, and has a volleyball scholarship to American University in Washington D.C.
She visited a school in New York and then came back to American and she was hooked on the school and the area. She said she likely will study business.
For now, Alyssa will settle for improving on the board.
“I think I really have gotten better on the reverse 1 ½,’’ she said.
Kristen has a very good streak going in the classroom.
“I’ve gotten all “A’s’ and I’m kind of a perfectionist,’’ she said. “I’ve never gotten a “B’ so I don’t know what I would do if I did.’’
She said she works hard doing her homework.
“There’s not much TV,’’ she said.
She once played sand volleyball for the Xavier program that has won the state title in all four years of the sport’s existence, but sat out in the spring of 2015. She is considering a return next spring. Finding just the right person to join her on those two-person teams will be essential.
Alyssa uses her sister as an example of how to survive in sports and academics.
“Things are going better (academically) than I thought they would be at this point,’’ she said.
An attempt to participate on the XCP track team might be in Alyssa’s future.
“I like to sprint,’’ she said.
The girls can’t always attend each other’s events, but they remain supportive of each other. And that’s what it’s all about.

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