Xavier Prep’s Lamar-Renee Bryant has played and coached in moments such as this during her athletic career. Sometimes, she said, the ball is just not going to bounce your way no matter what you do.
volleyball team stood in the hallway at Gilbert Highland’s gym, only a few
steps from where the Gators nearly earned a berth in the 6A Conference
player, senior outside hitter Bri McKnight, sat on the bench during the match,
wearing a boot on her left foot/ankle and she moved around on crutches after an
injury in the first round. She wanted to be out there with her fifth-seeded teammates,
but had to settle for watching them battle to the end before they fell 3-2 to
the fourth-seeded Hawks in five sets, including a 17-15 nail-biter in the
(Highland listed first): 25-17, 21-25, 25-16, 22-25 and 17-15.
which entered the match as the two-time defending state champion, went home
with a 30-12 record. Highland, meanwhile, stays alive with a 36-9 record and a
trip to the semis against top-seeded Gilbert Perry on Saturday night (Nov. 9).
advanced with a 3-1 win over No. 8 Phoenix Desert Vista. No. 2 Tempe Corona del
Sol defeated 10th-seeded Scottsdale Chaparral 3-1 in one of the
remaining quarterfinal matches, and No. 3 Chandler Basha survived a five-set
challenge from No. 6 Chandler Hamilton for a 3-2 win. Corona del Sol will meet
Basha on Saturday night in the other semi.
afterward as the Gators gathered in a circle with Bryant and her assistant
coaches, Kristen Jones and Stephanie Preach.
stings,’’ Bryant told the players. “My heart hurts for all of you.’’
Xavier had a
15-14 lead in Game 5 before Highland rallied. Xavier had a block but it went
out of bounds for a 15-15 score, followed by a Highland kill and a return shot
that landed just outside the sideline.
“We were so
close, had two (match points at14-12 and 15-14) but we just couldn’t put it
away,’’ Bryant said.
“We had a lot of people step up for us tonight.’’
18 kills and senior outside hitter Juli Westfall had 11. Junior defender Kaori
Robertson had 20 digs, senior libero Abby Converse had 15 digs and three aces
(two in the last game), and sophomore Alexa Shiner had 15 digs, 35 assists and two aces.