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 25, 2020

Xavier's volleyball effort is full of energy

 Compared to a 3-1 victory over Scottsdale Chaparral on Wednesday night (Sept. 23), Xavier Prep’s volleyball team was much more energetic when it came back on the floor at the Activity Center to face Chandler High on Thursday night (Sept. 24.)

After winning the first two sets, Xavier had a two-point “hiccup’’ in Game 3 before roaring back in Game 4 to win the match 3-1 and raise its record to 3-0 in as many tries.

Scores (Xavier listed first): 25-16, 25-22, 25-27 and 25-8.

Xavier Coach Lamar-Renee Bryant had a tough time watching her team on its rollercoaster ride against Chaparral, but was more optimistic after the win over Chandler.

“It was definitely higher energy for us,’’ she said. “It was an overall better effort. We passed  better, were better at the net and we made good decisions.

“We talked about that earlier today (Thursday). We talked about being in a good mental state and how we need to recover when bad things happen.’’

Despite the two-set discrepancy, Chandler was not a pushover by any means. In their season opener on Tuesday (Sept. 22), the Wolves took powerful rival Chandler Hamilton to five sets.

In the opening game, Xavier got some breathing room midway through when it widened a narrow lead to allow more breathing room with five unanswered points. The Gators finished it off with a block by junior middle blocker Bella Sinacori.

Chandler had the lead in the early stages of Game 2, but Xavier caught the Wolves at 13 and managed to maintain a close advantage the rest of the way. A shot by senior outside hitter Zaira Reyes that grazed the top of the net and dropped into Chandler territory allowed the Gators to wrap it up.

Game 3 went back and forth before Chandler won it with a service ace.

In the fourth game, Xavier jumped to a quick lead and never looked back as the Wolves could not muster much of a challenge. Wolves outside hitter Kaylie Ray had a strong game, but she needed more help.

The Xavier freshman-sophomore team is 3-0 and the junior varsity 2-1 after wins over Chandler. The JV match against the Wolves was noteworthy because XCP trailed through much of the decisive Game 3 before rallying for a 15-13 victory.

The Xavier varsity will have a stretch of three straight games next week just as it did this week. The Gators play at Gilbert Perry on Tuesday (Sept. 29), at Mesa Skyline on Wednesday (Sept. 30) and return home to face Hamilton on Thursday (Oct. 1).



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