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, September 27, 2017

Volleyball sweep of Basha is deceptive

A volleyball team has to do quite a few things right to post a 3-0 sweep of an opponent.

Yet Xavier Prep coach Lamar-Renee Bryant seemed a bit disappointed in her team’s play when the Gators defeated host Chandler Basha 3-0 on Tuesday night (Sept. 26). Scores were 25-15, 25-17 and 25-15.

Xavier raised its record to 15-1 while Basha slipped to 16-5.

“The outcome was good, but it really was not a good match,’’ said Bryant, who pointed to some service and passing miscues that lessened the impact of the outcome.

“It was like we did not want to compete,’’ Bryant added. “We weren’t the team I know we can be.’’

From Bryant’s perspective, it certainly wasn’t something she wanted to see as the Gators travel to face Chandler High on Wednesday night (Sept. 27) and then compete in the prestigious Nike Invitational Tournament of Champions on Friday (Sept. 29) and Saturday (Sept. 30) in Tempe and Phoenix.

The coach limited the playing time of some of her girls and that opened the door for others such as junior outside hitter Hayley Nash, who had a solid all-around effort.

“Hayley made a huge contribution,’’ Bryant said. “By her actions, she said, “I think I need to have a little more playing time.’ ’’

Bryant wasn’t quite sure what led to the team’s subpar play.

She said that Basha coach Terri Spann has coached some of the Gators with the Arizona Storm club team “and maybe she got into some of their heads, I don’t know.’’

A service ace by junior setter Shannon Shields sealed the deal for the Gators in the first game. Another ace, this time by senior outside hitter Lanie Wagner, but XCP over the top in the second game. And a kill by junior outside hitter Trinity Cavanaugh finished off the Bears in the third game.

Bryant thought that junior setter Kate Spellman and junior defensive specialist/libero Ashley Yeung provided some energy at certain points.

Nike tournament – Xavier will play in Pool G to open the 96-team tournament on Friday. The Gators will play three pool matches at Arizona State’s Sun Devil Fitness Center at 400 E. Apache Boulevard. First match is 10:30 a.m. but parking might be hard to come by because school will be in session.

Brackets for Saturday’s play are expected to be announced on Wednesday with some of the final rounds split between the Sun Devil Fitness Center and the Salvation Army Kroc Center at 13th Street and Broadway Road in Phoenix. Xavier is due to play four more matches on Saturday. Matches are limited to the best-of-three instead of the normal best-of-five.

About three dozen teams from Arizona are on the list of participants. Xavier finished fifth in the Gold Division in the 2016 Nike.

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