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, October 12, 2016

Another volleyball tourney looms, then final stretch

One more big tournament, followed by the all-important final stretch.
Xavier Prep’s volleyball team appears to be ready for whatever might happen.
The Gators earned a three-game sweep of visiting Phoenix Horizon on Tuesday night (Oct. 11), 25-19, 25-13 and 25-20. The junior varsity and freshman teams won their matches 2-0.
On Friday (Oct. 14) and Saturday (Oct. 15), Xavier will participate in an eight-team tournament at Gilbert High. The Gators will play four best-of-three matches on Friday and three matches on Saturday. Other teams are Gilbert, Horizon, Phoenix Sunnyslope, Tempe Corona del Sol, Phoenix Mountain Pointe, Peoria Centennial and Chandler Basha.
Next week, the Gators will turn their attention to the 6A Conference Premier Region. Xavier is one of five teams in the region.
There will be matches on three consecutive nights, at Basha on Tuesday (Oct. 18), at home against Gilbert Perry on Wednesday (Oct. 19) and at home against Chandler High on Thursday (Oct. 20). The final match of the regular season also will be at home, on Oct. 25 against Chandler Hamilton.
Xavier is 2-2 against region schools, defeating Basha and Chandler and falling to Perry and Hamilton.
After the win over Horizon, Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant said, “We are back. We had a very tough practice yesterday (Monday). We are putting emphasis on being mentally tough to allow us to compete at the highest level.’’
In the first game, Xavier took control with a 4-0 burst for a 20-15 lead. Senior middle blocker Emma Gelinas punctuated the run with a kill, and senior middle blocker Makena Patterson finished off the game with a kill.
In the second game, Xavier jumped to an 8-1 lead and never was seriously challenged. Patterson recorded the game’s final point with another kill.
Horizon held a narrow lead for the first part of the third. Xavier caught up at 17-17  and took the lead for good at 18-17, when Horizon’s return of a Xavier shot was wide.
Xavier did a good job at the net all night, blocking numerous Horizon kill attempts.
“We put in a lot of time on that in practice, and it paid off,’’ Bryant said.

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