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.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Bryant sees V-ball success, wants to hear it, too

The 2019 volleyball season is very young, only one match to be exact, and Xavier Prep coach Lamar-Renee Bryant liked some of the things she was seeing in a 3-0 road victory over Mesa Mountain View on Tuesday night (Sept. 3).

But Bryant also needs to hear more from her two-time defending 6A Conference state champions, particularly since there are seven new players who have little or no varsity experience.

Communication is very important.

“I need to hear six voices out there,’’ she said, about halfway through what would be the decisive third game.

Game scores were 25-21, 25-15 and 25-18.

“I wouldn’t say it was a great win, but it was exciting because it was our first one,’’ Bryant said.

“I was pleased with our serving, our set distribution and overall team chemistry. It is on the way.’’

A victory in the opener certainly can help build confidence. The Gators will need it on Friday (Sept. 6) and Saturday (Sept. 7) when they play at Chandler High in the House of Payne tournament, which features many of the top teams in the state. Xavier is expected to play three matches on the first day, with Saturday’s agenda becoming known after that time.

Mountain View jumped to a 5-1 lead in the first game, but Xavier did not allow things to get out of hand. The Toros did not help themselves with a number of service errors.

Senior middle blocker Jasmine Knight put the finishing touches on the first game with a powerful kill shot.

In the second game, Xavier was pretty much in control from start to finish. Senior outside hitter Juli Westfall provided some power of her own.

And in the third game, senior outside hitter Bri McKnight came up with some big swings, showing why she has been listed as one of the top 10 players for the new season by the media outlet.

Senior libero Abby Converse had a solid defensive effort, and sophomore Alexa Shiner looked promising as she makes a bid to become the Gators’ top setter.

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