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.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Volleyball maintains focus, sweeps Perry

Editor’s note: The XCP Files has a guest contributor for the fall semester and possibly beyond. She is Natalie Dove, a student at Arizona State University. These reports are part of her journalism school curriculum.

By Natalie Dove
The XCP Files
          After losing at Gilbert Perry earlier in the season, Xavier Prep’s volleyball team avenged that setback and defeated the top-ranked Pumas in three sets 25-19, 25-13, 28-26 on Wednesday night (Oct. 19) at the Activity Center.
         In the mid-September match at Perry, Xavier grabbed a 2-0 lead but fell victim to Perry’s three straight wins that sealed the outcome.
     “We were up so big at their place and couldn’t close it out which is uncharacteristic of Xavier teams, so we wanted to make sure we took care of business here,” Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant said.
          Both teams were focused from the start of the 6A Conference Premier Region match. Xavier did take off on a short run in set one after an ace from its setter, Shannon Shields.
     “We’re playing for the person next to us instead of being selfish and that’s really helped us,” Xavier senior middle blocker Makena Patterson said. “When you get in your own head it’s so hard to come out of that.”
          After a close first set, the second set was a different story. Xavier took an early lead and Shields served 13 points. Xavier’s fans roared with passion for their team.
          “We were really motivated this game because also the last game was kind of taken out from under us,” Patterson said.
          Perry stopped Xavier’s run with a kill by Grace Doyle.
          Errors distracted the Gators slightly, but in the end, they were not deterred.
          Game point beckoned after a short set from Shields resulted in a kill from Patterson, who finished the match with 15 kills. Senior outside hitter Grace Morrison had 13 and junior outside hitter Lanie Wagner had six.
          Xavier went into the third set with an upper hand but Perry coach Fred Mann gave his team some encouragement.
          Back and forth rallies began and ended this set.
          Morrison seemed to be the Gators’ “saving grace” on the off-side, recording seven kills alone in the third set.
          Perry played the net well this set which allowed it to take a small lead.
          The Pumas stumbled when Xavier’s Briana McKnight scored on a tip.
          “I felt like they [Xavier] played really well against us. They served well early,” Mann said. “Late we had an opportunity. We missed a bunch of serves which really hurt us. It’s a kind of disappointing match overall.”
        Xavier now has a 30-6 record while Perry is 22-5. The Gators are back at the Activity Center for a home match against Chandler High on Thursday night (Oct. 20). It will be Senior Night and Bryant said she will have all six of her seniors in the starting lineup – Patterson, Morrison, Emma Cisneros-Luebke, Kristen Klein, Emma Gelinas and Cierra Flood.

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