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.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

XCP v-ball stops Highland, now 6th in nation

After a long, successful trip to the Durango Invitational in Las Vegas over the weekend, the Xavier Prep volleyball team was back on the court on Tuesday (Sept. 20) and defeated visiting Gilbert Highland in four sets, 25-6, 22-25, 25-10 and 25-8.
Coach Lamar-Renee Bryant was generally pleased with her team’s effort after the Gators moved into the USA Today national Super 25 at No. 6. Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, Calif., showed up at No. 3 after winning the Durango.
Against Highland, the Gators were frustrated in the second set.
“We did not step up like we should have,’’ Bryant said.
Asked if there was a bit of residual fatigue on the part of the Gators after the long tournament, Bryant said, “Part of the game is mental toughness and we did not always have that tonight. You have to have that at all times. You can’t waste points.’’
In the first set, the Gators (12-2) got good play from middle blocker Makena Patterson, who was a factor on defense and came up with some key kills.
Xavier had the early lead in the second set, but Highland (13-11) got a burst of momentum. Xavier had its last lead at 12-11. Bryant used a powerful combination of Patterson, Grace Morrison and freshman Briana McKnight for a few points, and those girls looked promising.
Patterson again was a big presence at the net in the third set, and outside hitter Lanie Wagner opened things up with her versatility and scored in a number of different ways.
Patterson and Wagner continued their dominance in the fourth set, and McKnight scored the decisive point with a nice touch shot that the Hawks could not reach.
Next up for the Gators is a road contest on Thursday (Sept. 22) against Phoenix Desert Vista in a rematch of last season’s Division I state title match won by the Thunder in four sets. Desert Vista has won two state titles in a row.

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