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 5, 2018

Gators pass v-ball test vs. Queen Creek

A 3-0 sweep of visiting Queen Creek would, on face value, appear to be a dominant performance by Xavier Prep’s volleyball team.

But it wasn’t as easy as the numbers might indicate.

The visiting Bulldogs gave the Gators a pretty good fight before defending state champion Xavier walked out of the Activity Center with victories of 25-18, 25-20 and 25-19 on Tuesday night (Sept. 4).

“They (Queen Creek) are a good team, and it was a good match. We are happy to get out of here with three wins,’’ said XCP coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.

Xavier had to find a solution to stopping the Bulldogs’ two power hitters, Jaelyn Hodge and Kate Grimmer. They got their shots in, but Xavier proved to have a bit more balance across the board.

“You could clearly see why those two (Hodge and Grimmer) are D-I (Division I college)-type hitters,’’ Bryant said.

The Gators got strong countering efforts up front with juniors Jasmine Knight and Bri McKnight, who have big power games of their own, as well as strength on the block.

Senior setter Shannon Shields did her usual solid job distributing the ball to her teammates and provided a handful of timely kills along the way. Senior libero Ashley Yeung worked hard along the back line with what Bryant referred to as “clutch digs.’’

Xavier will have its third straight home match on Thursday (Sept. 6) when Phoenix Mountain Pointe (Ahwatukee) comes to visit.

Bryant knows her team will have to be at the top of its game.

“They are really good and have beaten us the last two years. They only graduated a few players and have a lot coming back,’’ Bryant said.

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