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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Gators open volleyball season with sweep

Xavier Prep’s Gators were a bit sleepy when the alarm went off that signaled the start of the 2016-17 volleyball season on Tuesday night (Aug. 30).
But they did not hit the snooze button, nor did they hit the panic button.
Xavier gave up the first four points of the opening set of the best-of-five match against host Mesa Mountain View and trailed 7-2. The Gators then scored five straight points against the Toros. They later went on an 8-0 run to win going away 25-14, and finished off the match in quick fashion by taking the last two, 25-5 and 25-17.
How quick was it?
The contest lasted just about an hour and when fans went to the parking lot, the western sky still had a glow, as dusk began to settle in.
Xavier entered the contest as the No. 3-ranked preseason team by in the new 6A Conference, behind old Division I state champion Phoenix Desert Vista and the Gators’ rival in the new 6A Premier Region, Chandler Hamilton.
In addition, XCP senior middle blocker Makena Patterson was listed as one of the top 25 players to watch in the state by
The 6-foot-4 Patterson had a solid effort against Mountain View, but she wasn’t flying solo. She had plenty of help.
“We came out nervous, but we got in a grove and we were good to go,’’ said Gators coach Lamar-Renee Bryant. “Once we got going, you could see what we are capable of doing.’’
Another senior middle blocker, Emma Gelinas, played well defensively. Bryant played junior Alyna Draper and senior Emma Cisneros-Luebke at libero, and a third candidate for that spot, sophomore Ashley Yeung contributed with some good serves.
Senior Kristen Klein also served well, and junior outside hitter Lanie Wagner was a big factor at the net.
“She (Wagner) got some big swings in for us,’’ Bryant said.
Xavier begins its home season at the Activity Center on Thursday night (Sept. 1) against Goodyear Millennium, ranked eighth in the preseason.

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