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.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Xavier finishes 7th of 96 teams in Nike TOC

Although it wasn’t quite what Xavier Prep’s Gators were hoping for, they could stand tall while leaving the Sun Devil Fitness Center in Tempe after Saturday’s (Sept. 22) Nike Tournament of Champions wrapped up its 10th volleyball edition.

The Gators were 5-2 in the tournament and finished seventh to raise their overall record to 17-4. They were 2-2 on Saturday.

Xavier began the day by defeating St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) 25-18, 25-18 to advance to the Platinum bracket, featuring the 96-team tournament’s top eight teams.

In their first Platinum match against Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), the Gators lost the first game 25-16, won the second game 25-16 before falling in the decisive third game 25-12.

That put XCP up against Valley rival Phoenix Horizon. Xavier had the upper hand in their recent meetings, but not this time as the Huskies won in three sets, 25-19, 21-25 and 15-3. By winning the match, long-time Horizon coach Valorie McKenzie earned the 900th win of her career.

Xavier went on to defeat Jesuit (Ore.) in the seventh-place match, 20-25, 25-18 and 15-12. Horizon, meanwhile, fell to Walton (Ga.) in the fifth-place match, 23-25, 25-20 and 15-13.

The Gators will attempt to get their rest after a rigorous two weeks that included two high-profile tournaments. They will play three matches in the coming week – at home against Mesa High on Tuesday (Sept. 25), at home against Gilbert Perry on Wednesday (Sept. 26) and on the road against Chandler Basha on Thursday (Sept. 27).

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