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.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Gator volleyball to play Corona del Sol in semis

Xavier Prep volleyball fans need not lament the team’s final match at its Activity Center home on Saturday night (Nov. 5).
There still is one match left, hopefully two, on the road.
The Gators dominated their 6A Conference quarterfinal match against Chandler Basha, taking a three-set sweep. Scores were 25-17, 25-21 and 25-15.
Xavier, the No. 2 seed, moves on to Tuesday’s (Nov. 8) semifinals and will meet third-seeded Tempe Corona del Sol at 5:15 p.m. at Gilbert Mesquite. The other semifinal at 7 p.m. will feature top-seeded Chandler Hamilton and No. 5 Phoenix Mountain Pointe.
The championship match will be played Wednesday night (Nov. 9) at Mesquite.
Corona del Sol advanced with a 3-0 win over No. 6 Goodyear Millennium. Hamilton was taken to five sets by No. 9 Phoenix Desert Vista, holding on for a 3-2 win. And Mountain Pointe continued its late-season charge with a 3-1 win over Gilbert Perry.
In a 3-0 win over visiting Anthem Boulder Creek, Xavier to have some first-match tournament jitters, according to coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.
There were no nerves this time.
“We were very calm. We have been working on that in practice,’’ Bryant said. “We were very focused. We talked about the state playoffs being win or go home. We are focused on doing what it takes.’’
The coach was pleased with the Gators’ defense and setting by sophomore Shannon Shields. The two big players up front, middle blocker Makena Patterson and outside hitter Lanie Wagner, also drew praise.
Basha, which had fallen to Xavier three times earlier in the season, appeared that it would challenge the Gators at certain points, but Xavier pulled away each time.
Now the Gators’ sights are set on Corona del Sol, which played Xavier once this season and fell 2-0 in the Gilbert Invitational. Xavier has a 34-6 record.

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