They were focused. They were more talented. They would not let up.
Xavier Prep’s Gators dominated host Phoenix Desert Vista on the volleyball court on Thursday night (Sept. 22) in a way that some people might not have expected.
Except for the Gators themselves.
Xavier ran its record to 13-2 with a 25-16, 25-14, 25-23 sweep of two-time defending state champion Desert Vista, which had defeated the Gators in last season’s title match and which Xavier had not beaten since 2014.
“Yes, we talked about all of that,’’ said Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant. “We remember the state tournament and we had not beaten them since the 2014 Nike Tournament. We needed to come in here and take care of business.’’
In a recent road match against Gilbert Perry, the Gators had a 2-0 lead, only to see that evaporate and lose the match 3-2.
“That’s not going to happen anymore,’’ Bryant promised.
Senior middle blocker Makena Patterson had a dominant effort on offense and defense. Bryant said sophomore setter Shannon Shields did a good job setting Patterson up “time after time.’’
Xavier fell behind early in the first game 3-0, but later went on a 6-0 run in the middle portion of the set to take control.
The Gators faced similar circumstances in the second game, trailing 4-1 early and later going on a significant run to pull away.
Their backs against the wall, the Thunder did their best to survive in the third game but couldn’t quite get it done. Desert Vista scored two straight points to pull within 25-23, but the Gators finished it off on a nice misdirection shot.
Xavier had strong service for most of the match, led by Shields and sophomore libero Ashley Yeung. Senior Kristen Klein also had some big hits up front.
The Gators have two matches next week, hosting Chandler Basha on Tuesday (Sept. 27) and traveling to Chandler High on Wednesday (Sept. 28) before playing in the Nike Tournament in Phoenix next weekend.