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, June 8, 2021

V-ball camp attendees must be ready to make move

 There was no time to waste, not much standing around. With only four days allotted for Xavier Prep’s annual volleyball summer camps, players must be as ready as possible to begin the learning process.

The festivities began Monday (June 7) and run through Thursday (June 10), with seventh and eighth graders participating in the late morning and  early afternoon, and incoming ninth graders taking the floor from 2-4 p.m.

There are approximately 40 players in each who hope to use what they learn for the varsity tryouts that will be held around the time that classes start fo the 2021-22 school year.

In the case of the older players, many have had club experience and their camp reflects more on strategies that are more involved as well as the overall pace of the workouts as well as the matches. The younger girls work more on their basic skills.

A volleyball camp attendee gets a chance to make a pass near the net (Photo by Don Ketchum),

Head volleyball coach Lamar-Renee Bryant has two coaches helping her – Jamie Itule and Anna Panagiotakopoulos (Coach P).

Also helping to put the wheels in motion are some of Bryant’s varsity squad – seniors-to-be Alexa Shiner, Tiffany Tellez and Hannah Ulisch, junior Kate Tax and sophomore Finley Workman.

Bryant has coached club ball for quite some time, so she knows that players can learn things one way at that level and have a different approach at their high school.

“You can apply all of it to your game, but here at Xavier we want the players to do what we have been doing for a long time,’’ Bryant said.

She also tells the players that Xavier “is a special place’’ and that many people often go by the LBF (Let’s Be Friends) mantra. “Being kind is a choice,’’ Bryant said.

On the first day, the older players worked on passing, a bit of setting and positioning, with serving and defense being included in the equation as the week moved along.

Of course, being aggressive is a primary element. And don’t forget about communication.

“You have to be able to talk. You can’t just stand around and say nothing,’’ Bryant said. “It’s “Say What You See.’ ’’

It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out – you never know if you will be able to find a hidden gem during the week.

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