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 12, 2018

Coach goes "home,' team records sweep

Xavier Prep volleyball coach Lamar-Renee Bryant was experiencing a bit of déjà vu when she walked into Tempe Corona del Sol High for her team’s game on Tuesday night (Sept. 11).

Back in the day, Bryant was a student and outstanding athlete for the Aztecs.

Someone asked her if she had searched for her locker. Maybe there was a granola bar or notebook and pencils still in there.

No, she did not do that, but she did find a photo of one of the teams she played on.

But it was the present that was her main focus.

Her volleyball team is among Arizona’s best, and she wanted to see a strong showing against the team the Gators defeated for last year’s Division 6A state championship.

The Gators complied with her wishes, earning a 3-0 sweep in a match that was competitive most of the way.

The scores were 25-20, 25-19 and 25-19.

Bryant said that her team “learned its lesson’’ in its previous match against Phoenix Mountain Pointe on Thursday (Sept. 6). In that contest, Xavier won the first two games, only to have the Pride rally for two wins to force a fifth game. Xavier won that one to take the match, 3-2. The Gators didn’t want to take any chances after winning the first two against Corona del Sol.

“We stayed focused on what we needed to do and we are happy to get out of here by winning all three,’’ she said.

Bryant was pleased with the play of sophomore outside hitter Serena Turner, senior libero Ashley Yeung and senior setter Shannon Shields. Turner was a powerful force at the net, Yeung had another strong effort digging out shots along the back line, and Shields was an equal-opportunity passer while helping to provide scoring opportunities.

Xavier (4-0) will have another road match on Wednesday (Sept. 12) against Scottsdale Chaparral.

This weekend, the Gators will be back in Las Vegas to play in the 64-team Durango Classic, sponsored by Nike. Xavier will be in pool play with three other teams on Friday (Sept. 14), and  switch to bracket play on Saturday (Sept. 15).

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