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.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Extra break between matches helps v-ball improve

 Xavier Prep had its volleyball match against Chandler Hamilton on Oct. 28 postponed until Nov. 4.

It proved to be a blessing in disguise for the Gators, as they were able to put in a lot of productive work in practice, refining their skills, getting their timing down and, maybe most important, learning to communicate better.

So after nearly two weeks since their previous match against Phoenix Sunnyslope on Oct. 22, the Gators came out and handled Tempe Corona del Sol 3-1 in Xavier’s final home match of the regular season.

After dropping the first game against the Aztecs, 26-24, Xavier regrouped and won three straight, 25-16, 25-21 and 25-14. Xavier’s win was its third in a row and put its overall record at 9-5.

Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant said the opening-game setback to Corona del Sol was not a case of her team being rusty.

“We had that game but we just couldn’t put it away. Corona is a very good team and you have to make sure that you do what you need to do,’’ Bryant said.

In the second game, junior outside hitter Tiffany Tellez and sophomore outside hitter Kate Tax made some big plays and the Gators sealed it on defense with a block.

Junior middle blocker Bella Sinacori provided the decisive point in the third game with a kill after providing a block shortly before that.

Corona del Sol had the early lead in the fourth game with hopes of sending the match to a fifth and deciding game. The game was tied at 11 before Xavier went on an 8-0 run. Corona del Sol did not help itself much down the stretch with some unforced errors.

As for the match against Hamilton, Xavier will be trying to atone for a 3-0 sweep at the hands of the Huskies at Xavier on Oct. 1. Hamilton recently has been in the No. 2 spot behind 6A Conference Premier Region rival Gilbert Perry, while Xavier’s recent success has put it in the top eight in power points.

“It’s all systems go. We just have to keep working hard,’’ Bryant said.

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