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 22, 2015

Senior Night includes volleyball marathon game

Shortly after a pre-match ceremony honoring six seniors on Senior Night, Xavier Prep’s volleyball team went from tearful emotion to needing every ounce of energy in the first of three games against visiting Gilbert Highland on Thursday night (Oct. 22).
Xavier won that first-game marathon 31-29 and went on to complete the sweep 25-19 and 25-21. It certainly wasn’t easy.
The Gators trailed by seven points midway through the contest, and both teams went back and forth the rest of the way. Xavier trailed 29-28 and avoided the loss with three straight points.
Xavier also trailed in the early moments of Game 2, but a five-point run helped the Gators to regain control. Senior outside hitter Khalia Lanier finished it off with a big kill.
The Gators built a significant lead midway through Game 3, but allowed Highland to get back into contention. The deficit, however, was too much to completely overcome.
The five senior players – Lanier, Hope Helser, Callie Jones, Kristen Largay and Caroline Kennedy, and senior manager Morgan Kent, were given big gift baskets that include green gator stuffed animals. The underclassmen saluted their older sisters with emotional words accompanied by hugs.
Xavier (29-6) wraps up the regular season with back-to-back-to-back matches on Tuesday (Oct. 27), Wednesday (Oct. 28) and Thursday (Oct. 29).
A road match against Scottsdale Chaparral is first, followed by a home contest against defending Division I state champion Phoenix Desert Vista and another road encounter against Mesa High.
First round of the state tournament is Nov. 3.

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