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.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Scrimmage gives Gator volleyball a better idea

Xavier Prep’s two-time defending state champion volleyball team got to see what life might be like for them this season with their appearance onWednesday night (Aug. 28) in an annual four-team scrimmage at Chandler Hamilton.

The Gators looked good at times against Chandler Basha, Phoenix Sunnyslope and Hamilton, other times not as good.

The team was competitive for the most part, but had many new players trying to fit in and learn more about what their roles will be.

The girls will head back to practice in preparation for their season opener on Tuesday night (Sept. 3) at Mesa Mountain View. Then the team will participate in the annual House of Payne tournament on Sept. 6 and 7 at Chandler High. The event will feature many of the teams expected to challenge Xavier for the title trophy.

Xavier played six “games,’’ two against each team, with 15-minute time limits for each game. No score was officially kept.

“This tells us what we need to work on,’’ said Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant afterward. “Next week, we will find out where we are as a team and it’s “game on.’ ‘’

The coach pointed to the efforts of two seniors, middle blocker Jasmine Knight and defensive specialist/libero Abby Converse, who fared well. Knight looked strong on offense and defense and Converse worked the back line with a number of defensive digs.

One of the main objectives during the preseason is to find a setter to replace Gatorade Arizona Player of the Year Shannon Shields, who graduated and now is at the University of Louisville.

The candidates are sophomore Alexa Shiner and freshman Lexi Yoza. Both played well at times and set their teammates up with good passes.

Senior Katelen Tellez also played well at outside hitter/opposite.

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