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.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Volleyball Gators accomplish their objective

Xavier Prep’s volleyball team had a tough task ahead of it on Thursday (Sept. 20).

The Gators traveled all the way out to the northwest Valley community of Surprise, played a 4 p.m. match against host Valley Vista and cris-crossed back to Tempe’s Arizona Grand Resort to attend the opening ceremonies of the 10th annual Nike Tournament of Champions.

For those wondering what became of the Gators, coach Lamar-Renee Bryant answered that with a three-word text after the team arrived in Tempe.

“We made it!’’ she said.

The Gators were due to play three matches on Friday (Sept. 21) at ASU’s Sun Devil Fitness Center in Pool D of the 96-team event (31 from Arizona). They will be back for more on Saturday (Sept. 22) as bracket play begins.

Xavier is 12-2 overall and 7-0 in Arizona after its three-game sweep of Valley Vista, 25-14, 25-8 and 25-13.

“We were able to get everyone into the match and it gave us some good preparation for the Nike,’’ Bryant said.

Xavier got strong play from senior libero Ashley Yeung, senior setter Shannon Shields, senior outside hitter Hayley Nash and sophomore outside hitter Serena Turner. The Gators also looked good on defense.

Shields was one of six players (the only one from Arizona) honored with a presentation of her accomplishments during the Nike opening ceremonies. She will play as a freshman for the University of Louisville starting in 2019.

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