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, October 15, 2020

Volleyball plays well, but needs to be even better

Of the six schools remaining on the Xavier Prep regular-season volleyball schedule four are slotted ahead of the Gators in the weekly Arizona Interscholastic Association rankings for 6A Conference teams.

That means it is time for the Gators to get down to business.

After struggling against Mesa Mountain View in a 3-2 loss last week, Xavier has come back with a sweep of Peoria Liberty and the latest at home on Wednesday night (Oct. 14) against Premier Region rival Chandler Basha, the defending state champion. The sweep of the Bears was Xavier’s second this season, as Basha is trying to rebuild after losing several key players to graduation.

Scores against Basha were 25-18, 25-11 and 25-12.

Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant has held team meetings with her players to emphasize what needed to be done if the team wanted to survive late in the season and in the state tournament.

“Tonight, we did a lot of things we needed to do to get better,’’ Bryant said. “And we need to keep working on our confidence.’’

Xavier looked solid in virtually every area, starting with communication.

The numbers reflected the consistency.

Senior Phoebe Lewis and junior Bella Sinacori each had nine kills, and Lewis had three blocks.

The Gators also got a big lift from junior Tiffany Tellez (six kills, four service aces) and senior Zaira Reyes (five kills). Junior setter Alexa Shiner contributed 27 assists, and senior libero Kaori Robertson and junior Emma Soderstrom led the defense with 18 and 13 digs, respectively.

Xavier (6-3) will travel to face Chandler High on Thursday night (Oct. 15) and return home on Tuesday (Oct. 20) against top-ranked Gilbert Perry.

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