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, September 30, 2016

Gators win their pool in Nike volleyball play

Everything went according to plan for Xavier Prep’s volleyball team.
The Gators earned the Pool D title in Friday’s (Sept. 30) opening round of the Nike Tournament of Champions at the Kroc Center in Phoenix and will move on to play Mercy, Ky., in their first match of the day on Saturday (Oct. 1) at 11:45 a.m.
Xavier swept its six games against its three pool opponents. The opponents were St. Mary’s Lancaster (N.Y.), Goodyear Millennium and The Bishop’s School (La Jolla, Calif.).
The Gators defeated St. Mary’s Lancaster, 25-12 and 25-9. Next came a 25-14, 25-21 triumph over Millennium. Following that was a 25-15, 25-21 win over The Bishop’s School.
Mercy went 2-1 in Pool C, winning five of eight games. Mercy’s loss was to Archbishop Mitty (San Jose, Calif.), which defeated Xavier in the title match of the recent Durango Classic in Las Vegas.
Xavier enters Saturday’s play with an 18-2 overall record.

XCP badminton makes it a dozen victories

Xavier Prep’s badminton team now has a Dandy Dozen in victories after a 9-0 defeat of visiting Chandler High at the Activity Center on Thursday (Sept. 29).
The Gators will play in the Independence Invitational on Saturday (Oct. 1) at Glendale Independence. Next week will mark the team’s final two matches of the regular season, both at home.
The opponents are Gilbert Perry, on Tuesday (Oct. 4) and Chandler Basha, on Thursday (Oct. 6).

Xavier results
Tatum Clarke won 3-11, 11-0, 11-6.
Emily Woodrow won 11-2, 11-1.
Annie Kamps won 11-0, 11-1.
Kiana Valentova-Macdonald won by default.
Maddie Reinhart won 11-4, 11-1.
Misaal Irfan won 11-1, 11-1.
Woodrow-Valentova-Macdonald won 15-6, 1-15, 17-14.
Clarke-Kamps won by forfeit.
Reinhart-Irfan won 15-0, 15-5.

Relays rule, divers strong in victory over Pinnacle

Xavier Prep’s swimming and diving team continues to leave opponents in its wake as it churns toward the 6A Conference state championship meet in early November.
The Gators came up with another big victory on Thursday (Sept. 29), 107-78, over visiting Phoenix Pinnacle at the Brophy Pool.
Xavier was scheduled to participate in the Phoenix Country Day School Eagle Invitational at PCDS on Friday (Sept. 30/diving) and Saturday (Oct. 1/swimming).
“It was another good meet for us,’’ said Xavier coach Maureen Rankin.
“Katie McCoy (junior) had a solid day, especially in the freestyle.’’
McCoy won the 500-yard freestyle as well as the 200-yard individual medley. Another junior, Mary Roediger, won the 50-yard freestyle and finished second in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Rankin said she thinks that McCoy will have a strong chance to win both of her events at state.
McCoy and Roediger also swam in relay events. All three relay teams won – the 200-yard medley, the 200-yard freestyle and the 400-yard freestyle.
“The effort our girls put forth was amazing, particularly in the 400 free,’’ Rankin said.
Since many XCP swimmers have achieved state qualifying times, Rankin said she might place her swimmers in different events and adjust the order in the relays a bit.
“It will be interesting to see what they can do,’’ Rankin said.
Diving coach Frank Pipitone also was pleased by the effort of his athletes, who finished 1-2-3. Xavier divers also competed in the exhibition category.
Sophomore Alyssa Largay got the top score with 221.46 points, followed by freshman Madeline Sewell at 210.90 and sophomore Talle Donley at 171.90.
“Our girls have been doing a great job,’’ Pipitone said. “We are going to be one of the few schools at state that has qualified the maximum number of divers with four.’’
Because the divers are assured a spot in the state meet, Pipitone said they will use the rest of the meets as a training exercise, to see how much they can improve.

Xavier results
200-yard freestyle – Vica Dow (second), Haley Hubbard (third).
200-yard individual medley – Katie McCoy (first).
50-yard freestyle – Mary Roediger (first), Olivia Paliscak (second).
100-yard butterfly – Olivia Paliscak (second), Haley Hubbard (third).
100-yard freestyle – Izzy Gomez (first), Taylor Guthrie (third).
500-yard freestyle – Katie McCoy (first).
100-yard backstroke – Vica Dow (second).
100-yard breaststroke – Mary Roediger (second), Carlie Hermann (third).
Diving – Alyssa Largay (first), Madeline Sewell (second), Talle Donley (third), *Molly Cahill (fifth), *Hannah Jemsek (sixth), *Riley Smith (seventh), *Isabella Plumb (eighth).

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Gator volleyball sweeps Chandler, on to Nike

Xavier Prep’s volleyball team improved its record to 15-2 with a three-game sweep of host Chandler High on Wednesday night (Sept. 28). The scores were 25-11, 25-16 and 25-14.
The Gators now turn their attention to the Nike Tournament of Champions, which runs Friday (Sept. 30) and Saturday (Oct. 1) at several locations in the Valley. XCP will be playing most of its games at the Kroc Center in Phoenix, at 13th St. and Broadway.
Xavier is one of 96 teams in the tournament, with nearly 40 from Arizona.
The Gators will be one of four teams in Pool D. The others are St. Mary’s of Lancaster, N.Y., Goodyear Millennium and The Bishop’s School from La Jolla, Calif. Xavier faced Millennium on Sept. 1 at the Activity Center and recorded a three-game sweep.
Pool play will be held Friday. Xavier faces St. Mary’s at noon, Millennium at 2 p.m. and The Bishop’s School at 5 p.m.
XCP will open play on Saturday against an unnamed opponent at 11:45 a.m. Matches continue throughout the day, with championship matches scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Xavier volleyball responds after early struggle

With a 25-20 loss to visiting Chandler Basha in the first game of its match on Tuesday (Sept. 27), Xavier Prep’s volleyball team appeared to be in danger of going 0-2 in the tough 6A conference Premier Region.
The early setback against Basha caught the Gators’ attention. Although they didn’t play nearly as well as in a three-game sweep of Phoenix Desert Vista last week, the girls did enough to win the next three games and took a 3-1 victory in the match.
The scores were 20-25, 25-6, 25-22 and 25-21.
Xavier, ranked fourth in 6A by, raised its record to 14-2. The Gators have a quick turnaround, traveling to face Chandler High on Wednesday night (Sept. 28) before participating in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix on Friday (Sept. 30) and Saturday (Oct. 1).
Basha, ranked sixth, slipped to 13-5. The Bears also will play in the Nike TOC.
Before the match, Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant stressed the importance of a win over Basha after the Gators dropped their previous region match at Gilbert Perry on Sept. 14.
“We want to avoid going 0-2 in the region,’’ Bryant said, also noting that she knew Basha would be competitive.
Xavier wasn’t on top of its game in the opening set. The Gators trailed most of the way, pulling close but then falling back as Basha unleashed some powerful kills.
Senior middle blocker Makena Patterson led the way as XCP rebounded in the second game. The Gator setters gave her good passes to set up her point-producing kills.
Basha helped the Gators in the third game, somewhat self-destructing with some overzealous serves that were wide and long. A long serve allowed Xavier to break a 22-22 tie, and an ace serve by sophomore Shannon Shields dropped right in the middle of the Basha side to clinch the game.
Basha made a late run in the fourth game, but the Gators maintained just enough of an edge.
Bryant liked the work of sophomore Ashley Yeung as she dug out shot after shot near the back line, and praised the service of Yeung and Shields. And the coach also took note of the strong play of senior outside hitter Grace Morrison.
“She is becoming one of our top three offensive weapons,’’ Bryant said.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

XCP mountain bikers perform well in Prescott pines

This trio of Xavier mountain bike riders put forth a strong effort at a recent event in Prescott. From left are freshman Erin Hill, freshman Heather Kwapiszeski and senior Mercedes Biscoff. (Photo courtesy of Rich Perrott).
  Mountain biking has its share of ups and downs, and the riders still persevere through all types of terrain.
Xavier Prep’s mountain bike club team had a good effort in the pines and cooler weather of Prescott over the weekend. It was the second in the team’s five-race series, according to coach Rich Perrott.
“We had a fantastic weekend in Prescott,’’ said Perrott, who also coaches the riders from Brophy Prep. “We competed with about 500 other student athletes. We have a team of 22 total riders, and we expect to have even more racers as the season continues.’’
Erin Hill and Heather Kwapiszeski competed in the freshman division, with Kwapiszeski finishing eighth and Hill 11th. Senior Mercedes Biscoff was 17th in the junior-varsity division.
The group will ride again in Sierra Vista, southeast of Tucson, then return to the Valley for its final two races, in Fountain Hills and Waddell in the west. Perrott said Xavier competes with 46 other teams representing more than 80 high schools.
The Gators remain active on the XCP campus, hosting a spin class every Tuesday afternoon, and have trail rides on Thursday and Saturday mornings.
“We are very proud of our team’s effort,’’ Perrott said.