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 6, 2016

Volleyball starts fast but can't keep momentum

Chandler Hamilton’s top-rated volleyball team appeared ripe for an upset against visiting Xavier Prep in a Premier Region battle on Wednesday night (Oct. 5).
The Gators took the first game 25-21 and were ready to post two more victories to win the match.
It didn’t happen.
The turning point came midway through the second game. Xavier nursed a 12-11 lead, but Hamilton got the next five points and never looked back for a 25-20 win.
The momentum carried the Huskies to victories in games 3 and 4, 25-19 and 25-18. Hamilton raised its record to 25-4. Xavier slipped to 20-5, with a match at Mesa Desert Ridge on Thursday night (Oct. 6).
Xavier lost two relatively close games to Hamilton in the recent Nike Tournament of Champions, and Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant said her team learned that “if you apply pressure to them, you can stay with them and have a chance.’’
Knowing that is one thing, but making it a reality is another.
The service and passing that helped the Gators win the first game deserted them thereafter.
“When those things break down, that makes it difficult to score,’’ Bryant said. “They’re a big-blocking team. You can’t score points for them – that makes it even more difficult.’’
Hamilton senior Preslie Anderson, perhaps the state’s top big player at 6-foot-2, turned on her power at the net and her teammates provided assistance with strong defense and service. The Huskies perhaps are the most balanced team in the state.
For Xavier, junior outside hitter Lanie Wagner had a good all-round effort, and freshman outside hitter Briana McKnight is developing into a force up front.

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