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.

Friday, October 2, 2015

V-ball bounces back in convincing fashion

A large part from what was missing from Xavier Prep’s volleyball match against Chandler Hamilton on Tuesday night (Sept. 29) returned to the Gators on Thursday (Oct. 1) at home against Anthem Boulder Creek.
Xavier, missing two key seniors, Khalia Lanier (ankle) and Callie Jones (finger), still managed to pick up a three-game sweep over the Jaguars, 25-12, 25-13 and 25-22.
The games were played earlier than normal because Xavier was to attend the opening ceremonies of the Nike Invitational, which begins Friday (Oct. 2). The Gators listened to keynote speaker Misty May Treanor, the noted Olympian in sand volleyball.
Against Hamilton, the Gators had trouble setting the ball, weren’t sharp on defense and were in a general malaise.
Boulder Creek was not the same caliber team as Hamilton and Xavier took advantage.
Gators libero Kristen Largay dug out many of Boulder Creek’s return shots, freshman Shannon Shields had several serving aces with her left-handed power, and Lanie Wagner and Makena Patterson were strong at the net in Lanier’s absence. The setting of Cierra Flood and Shields also was a key factor.
Coach Lamar-Renee Bryant also had the opportunity to use most of her roster.
“It’s important that they (reserves) get that opportunity to play, because you never know when you are going to need them down the road,’’ Bryant said.
A win such as this one was needed entering the Nike.
“It definitely makes everyone confident,’’ Bryant said.
Lanier, a 6-foot-2 outside hitter, likely won’t return until next week, according to Bryant. Jones is out indefinitely. Bryant said she would like to have Lanier for the Nike, but no Arizona Interscholastic Association power points are awarded for the tourney, and she would rather have Lanier back when the games count toward state tournament seeding.
The Gators have been placed in Pool B of the Nike and will play twice on Friday at the Kroc Center in Phoenix, 13th Street and Broadway Road. Xavier faces Pleasant Valley, Calif., at 12:30 p.m. and Phoenix Mountain Pointe at 2:30. The tourney will continue on Saturday (Oct. 3).

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