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, September 17, 2017

Gators win Silver Division in Durango Classic

It always is a challenge trying to survive against a strong field of volleyball teams in the 64-team Durango Classic in Las Vegas, which was played on Friday (Sept. 14) and Saturday (Sept. 15).

Xavier Prep’s Gators rose to the occasion again, winning six of their seven matches and taking home the title trophy in the Silver Division. XCP’s only loss was to Torrey Pines (San Diego) in a qualifying match early Saturday morning.

Xavier's Gators won the Silver Division in the Durango Classic volleyball tournament (Photo courtesy of Lamar-Renee Bryant).
Xavier, originally playing in Pool 8, was in control most of the way on Friday’s first day in defeating its three opponents, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego), Notre Dame Belmont (Belmont, Calif.) and McQueen (Reno, Nev.).

“Our biggest competition was Cathedral Catholic,’’ said Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant. “They were big, but we controlled them with our serves and had strong performances from (outside hitters) Lanie (Wagner) and Bri (McKnight).’’

Wagner and McKnight played well against Torrey Pines and setter Shannon Shields stood out on defense.

After the 20-25, 23-25 setback against Torrey Pines, Xavier came back to claim three straight victories. Those were 25-16, 28-26 over Marin Catholic (Kentfield, Calif.), 25-11, 25-15 over Edison High (Huntington, Beach, Calif.) and Marymount (Los Angeles) in the Silver title match, 25-21 and 25-23.

Bryant said libero Alyna Draper’s defense stepped up against Marymount and middle blocker Ericka Snopko “had great play.’’

Wagner, a senior, was named to the all-tournament team for the second year in a row.

Xavier  now is 12-1 overall and will be back in its home state on Tuesday (Sept. 19) with a road match at Gilbert Highland. That will be followed by a home match against Phoenix Desert Vista on Thursday (Sept. 21). Start times for both will be 6 p.m.

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