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, November 6, 2015

Gators sweep Corona, on to volleyball semis

Friday night’s (Nov. 5) Division I quarterfinal was Xavier Prep’s last home match of the season.
The good news was that the Gators’ season did not end.
Second-seeded Xavier was not to be denied, as it recorded a three-game sweep of visiting 10th-seeded Tempe Corona del Sol 25-14, 25-19 and 25-20.
The Gators, who raised their record to 33-7, advanced to a semifinal match against No. 3 Gilbert High on Saturday (Nov. 7) at Gilbert Mesquite. Gilbert overcame a 0-2 deficit against No. 6 Gilbert Perry and won its quarterfinal match 3-2.
Start time for Saturday’s Xavier-Gilbert match is 4 p.m. The other semifinal match between top-seeded, defending champion Phoenix Desert Vista and No. 5 Phoenix Sunnyslope will follow. Desert Vista defeated No. 8 seed Chandler Basha 3-0 and Sunnyslope eliminated No. 4 Chandler Hamilton 3-1.
“It was a good match, and we definitely feel fortunate to get out of here in three,’’ said Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant of the win over Corona del Sol.
The Aztecs had advanced to the quarterfinal with an impressive 3-1 first-round road win over No. 7 Peoria Centennial on Tuesday (Nov. 3)
Was Bryant concerned that the Aztecs might continue that excellence?
“There’s always a concern,’’ Bryant said. “Corona is a powerhouse. They play consistent and they bring a lot of fans with them. So we knew we had to play our game.’’
The Gators’ game is distributing the ball as evenly as possible and setting up the big swings of senior outside hitter Khalia Lanier and junior middle Makena Patterson.
Earlier in the day, Lanier had been named to the 24-player Under Armour All-American first team. Bryant acknowledged that the 6-foot-2 Lanier has become more of a complete player, not just a threat to send the ball screaming back at opponents.
“Her defense and her service are strong, and she plays the back line about as well as the front row,’’ Bryant said.
Corona hung around in all three games, particularly the last two, before Xavier took control.
This win was especially gratifying for Bryant, who is a graduate of Corona.
“They (Corona players) were doing some of the cheers that we did when I was there. It kind of took me back,’’ she said.

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