Bio

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 AIA365.com, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Monday, August 30, 2021

V-ball schedule changes, team to start Sept. 7

 The Xavier Prep volleyball team was due to begin its regular season on Tuesday (Aug. 31) at Mesa Mountain View, but that has been moved to Sept. 8. The season opener will be Sept. 7 at Scottsdale Chaparral. That was moved from Sept. 14.

There also are some other changes.

Xavier was due to open its home season on Thursday (Sept. 2) against Mesa High, but that contest has been moved to the last match of the regular season, on Oct. 28. The home opener now will be on Sept. 9 against Phoenix Mountain Pointe.

The team will play in the Tournament of Champions as scheduled on Sept. 10-11 at Gilbert Mesquite. A second Tournament of Champions has been added, on Oct. 1-2 at the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Phoenix.


Sunday, August 29, 2021

Red-hot I-Ridge outpaces Gator golf in tourney

 Xavier Prep’s golf team had an early lead in Saturday’s (Aug. 28) second and decisive round of the One-Off Invitational Tournament hosted by Cave Creek Cactus Shadows, but Oro Valley (Tucson) Ironwood Ridge rallied to win the event at the Phoenix Papago Golf Course, with Xavier finishing second.

Ironwood Ridge, the two-time Division II defending state champion, finished with a 593 team score, 14 shots better than Xavier, which won its 37th Division I state title last season.

Peoria Liberty finished third, Cactus Shadows fourth, Goodyear Millennium fifth, and Phoenix Desert Vista sixth.

I-Ridge’s Zoe Newell was the tournament’s medalist with a 6-under-par 138 over the two days. The top Xavier golfer was junior Annie Dawson, who was at 147.

Liberty’s Mattie Frick, who was last year’s D-I individual champion, finished with an even-par 144.

The remainder of Xavier golfers and their two-day totals:

Senior Ivy Song, 153, sophomore Kate Hauptman, 154 and sophomore Lauren Campbell, 156.

Sophomore Jayden Jevnick’s 75 counted toward the Gators’ team score on Friday’s (Aug. 27) first day, but she had to withdraw after 14 holes on Saturday.

Xavier will return to its Phoenix Country Club home course on Wednesday (Sept. 1) against Chandler Basha.

 

 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Badminton looks good, finishes in top 4

 The Flying Feathers tournament kicked off the badminton season on Friday (Aug. 27) and Saturday (Aug. 28), and Xavier Prep came up with a respectable effort, finishing in the top four of the 16-team event at Gilbert Highland.

The Gators posted a 3-1-1 record. They were in Pool C, defeating Gilbert Campo Verde (5-1) and Queen Creek (4-2) along with a 3-3 tie against Chandler High.

They moved on to Saturday’s play, where they defeated Chandler Hamilton before falling to Tempe Corona del Sol in the semifinals.

First-year Xavier head coach Brian McNerney was pleased with his team’s play.

Junior Riley Dowdall and senior Dani Rivera played well in singles in the first day, as well as a strong effort from the doubles pairing of Junior Gigi Riviere and senior Sophia Bonilla.

The win over Hamilton on Saturday morning was keyed by the doubles team of sophomore Kasia Smigielski and junior Lexi Garman, who pulled out a crucial, exciting match.

Xavier will play its home opener on Tuesday (Aug. 31) in the Activity Center against Mesa Mountain View at 4 p.m.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

After Hamilton storm, Gators turn it around (a bit)

 Xavier Prep’s volleyball team opened the gymnasium door at Chandler Basha on Wednesday (Aug. 25) and encountered a booming thunderstorm.

What a way to begin a preseason scrimmage, facing defending 6A champion Chandler Hamilton, with its entire roster returning virtually intact.

Hamilton, led by the powerful swing of senior Jordan Middleton, the 2020-21 Gatorade Player of the Year, did just about everything it wanted in the two “games’’ against the Gators (scores were not officially kept).

To compound matters, Xavier was missing a few players for various reasons and had just nine active players, including two that were called up from the JV level.

The Gators did what they could, but . . .

“We were overwhelmed,’’ said Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant matter of factly. “For our newer girls, it was like “Well, welcome to high school.’ ‘’

The Gators nursed their wounds (more mental than physical) and washed ashore to find opponents more to their liking in the four-team format.

They moved from the auxiliary gym to the main gym to face host Basha and rebounded with wins in both games. Then it was back to the smaller gym, falling to Phoenix Sunnyslope in the first game before rallying to finish with a tie in the second.

“It was a good litmus test,’’ Bryant said. “We were finally able to control some things. We had some good individual efforts, and we are definitely optimistic.’’

The regular season begins on Tuesday (Aug. 31) at Mesa Mountain View.

Bryant said she was “super excited’’ about the play of senior outside hitter Emma Soderstrom with her all-around play and leadership. On most occasions, she was the “go-to’’ person to send the ball where it was supposed to go and with the necessary zip to drive it.

Other notable efforts were turned in by junior Kristy Tom as the setter, freshman Olivia Lenz as a defensive specialist/libero, and senior middle blocker Isabella Sinacori.


Decisive win sets up XCP golf for weekend event

 Another team score in red, signifying an under-par finish, allowed Xavier Prep’s golf team to pick up a decisive victory over Phoenix Horizon on Wednesday (Aug. 25) at Phoenix Country Club in the Gators’ second match of the regular season.

Xavier’s 1-under team total of 143 far outdistanced Horizon’s 199.

Junior Annie Dawson’s 1-under 35 was the top score among the five team contributors. Sophomore Kalyn Doss also shot 35.

Sophomores Jayden Jevnick and Kate Hauptman and senior Ivy Song all were at even-par 36. Sophomore Lena Durette, who shot a 33 in a win over Scottsdale Desert Mountain to open the season on Tuesday (Aug. 24), came in with a 1-over-par 37.

The Gators will be back on the course this weekend (Friday-Saturday) with the Cactus Shadows Invitational tournament at the Papago Golf Course on the Phoenix-Tempe border.

Xavier scores vs. Horizon

Annie Dawson (Jr.) 35 (1-under-par), Kalyn Doss (So.) 35 (1-under), Jayden Jevnick (So.) 36 (even par), Kate Hauptman (So.) 36 (even), Ivy Song (Sr.), 36 (even).

Grace Rubelsky (So.) 36 (even), Kyla Layman (So.) 36 (even), Lena Durette (So.) 37 (1-over-par), Kate Ryan (Sr.) 37 (1 over), Lauren Campbell (So.) 38 (2-over-par).

Audrey Sanchez (Sr.) 40 (4-over-par), Carrie Doss (Fr.) 42 (6-over-par), Karter Nannen (So.) 43 (7-over-par), Sophie Stamatis (Jr.) 45 (9-over-par), Ava Mayberger (Sr.), 47 (11-over-par), Reimi Bleyl (So.) 47 (11 over), Aanvi Goel (Fr.) 56 (20-over-par), Jorden Weinberg (So.) 58 (22-over-par).


Xavier badminton glides into Flying Feathers tourney

 Xavier Prep’s badminton team will officially begin its 2021 season on Friday (Aug. 27) and Saturday (Aug. 28) with its participation in the Flying Feathers Invitational tournament at Gilbert Highland.

The Gators will be one of 16 teams, with four four-team pools. Xavier will be in Pool  C and begin play on Friday at 9 a.m. Other teams in Pool C are Gilbert Campo Verde, Queen Creek and Chandler High.

Pool A will be Gilbert Perry, Gilbert Mesquite, Tempe Corona del Sol and Tempe Marcos de Niza. Pool B will be Scottsdale Chaparral, Phoenix Desert Vista, Mesa Dobson and Mesa Desert Ridge. And Pool D will be Mesa Red Mountain, Highland, Chandler Hamilton and Laveen Cesar Chavez.

Each team will receive 3 pool play matches. The top Eight teams, (2 from each pool) Pool Play Winners/Runners-up, will qualify for the team championship bracket on Saturday.

The remaining teams will seed 2 singles players and 3 doubles teams for consolation bracket play.

Xavier players are Gigi Riviere, Jasmine Leyva, Sophia Bonilla, Riley Dowdall, Caroline Dobb, Dani Rivera, Kasia Smigielski, Lexi Garman, Lila Williams and Sarah Castlen.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Gator golf season begins with comfortable victory

 The first golf match of the season sometimes brings a few extra nerves for team members, who want to begin on a strong note and make sure they don’t stumble out of the gate.

There may have been a few of those for Xavier Prep on Tuesday (Aug. 24), but the Gators managed to come up with a solid initial effort against Scottsdale Desert Mountain at XCP’s home course, the Phoenix Country Club.

Xavier finished with a 3-under-par 141, while Desert Mountain posted a 162.

The Gators have a quick turnaround on Wednesday (Aug. 25), returning to Phoenix CC for a match against Phoenix Horizon.

Sophomore Lena Durette had the top individual score with a 3-under-par 33 for nine holes. It did not figure into the team scores (five players are pre-selected for that designation before each match), but she did add credence to the theory that most of the girls up and down the roster have the necessary skills to be atop the leaderboard at any time.

The four top scores out of the five selectees count toward the team total.

On Tuesday, the top four were junior Annie Dawson (1-under-par 35), sophomore Jayden Jevnick (35), sophomore Kate Hauptman (35) and senior Ivy Song (even-par 36). Sophomore Lauren Campbell finished with a 2-over-38.

“It was a good first day,’’ said Xavier co-head coach Tui Selvaratnam. “I think the girls are excited about what they did.’’

Song was generally pleased with her first match.

“My putting saved me,’’ she said.

Dawson said she was “consistent off the tee, my iron shots were good and my putting was solid.’’

Now the schedule intensifies with two or three matches in a week with an invitational tournament or two thrown in.

“Day after day, you kind of get used to it,’’ Dawson said. “You have to stay strong, stay sharp.’’

Jevnick birdied the ninth hole and felt good about her approach shots that led to pars.

“I was hitting the greens consistently,’’ she said.

Hauptman was encouraged by her wedge game, but said she needs more improvement.

“I will be better tomorrow (Wednesday),’’ she said.

Sophomore Karter Nannen shot 45, and also vows to improve.

“I had more pars than usual, but I had more doubles (bogeys), kind of back and forth,’’ she said. “My putting is way better than it’s been, but I have to keep working on it.’’

Notes

Staying hydrated

With the temperature returning to triple digits of late, it makes it all the more important that the players stay hydrated, both on and off the course.

Gator assistant coach Jane Ladensack did her part on Tuesday, shuttling Gatorade and water between holes to both teams.

Former Gator returns

Former Xavier golfer Mikayla Fitzpatrick, who graduated with her MBA in May from Xavier University in Cincinnati, visited the team and coaches. She reflected on her days as a Gator, and will be playing on the Cactus Tour to prepare for an LPGA tryout.

Xavier scores vs. Desert Mountain

Lena Durette (So.), 33 (3 under); Kate Hauptman (So.), 35 (1 under); Jayden Jevnick (So.), 35 (1 under); Annie Dawson (Jr.), 35 (1 under); Ivy Song (Sr.) 36 (even).

Kyla Layman (So.) 37 (1 over); Kalyn Doss (So.) 37 (1 over); Kate Ryan (Sr.) 38 (2 over); Lauren Campbell (So.) 38 (2 over); Ava Mayberger (Sr.) 41 (5 over).

Carrie Doss (Fr.) 41 (5 over); Sophie Stamatis (Jr.) 42 (6 over); Grace Rubelsky (So.) 42 (6 over); Karter Nannen (So.) 45 (9 over); Reimi Bleyl (So.) 49 (13 over); Aanvi Goel (Fr.) 51 (15 over); Jordan Weinberg (So.) 54 (18 over).


Saturday, August 21, 2021

XCP's golf "sisterhood' supports each other all the way

 The sport of golf has long been important at Xavier Prep, enough to claim 37 state championships, but there is something else that helps to create a complete experience.

The players say it is the belief in each other, the support of one another that can have an impact on the course and off.

Gators co-head coach Tui Selvaratnam said the players are very appreciative of the work they put in and its results.

“It is like a sisterhood. You can’t find it anywhere else. It helps continue the Xavier tradition,’’ she said.

Perhaps this season more than any other, Selvaratnam, co-head coach Sr. Lynn Winsor and assistant coach Jane Ladensack will rely on the experience, the youth and the potential across the board. There are some players who will have an edge, but on any particular day, several other teammates are capable of stepping into the spotlight and keeping the Gators on track.

The Gators watch how each other carries themselves, how they react when facing obstacles, and so on.

The team features 18 girls -- four seniors, two juniors, 10 (count ‘em), 10 sophomores, and two freshmen.

Xavier's four senior golfers this season are, from left, Audrey Sanchez, Ava Mayberger, Kate Ryan and Ivy Song. (Photo by coach Tui Selvaratnam).

“Everybody is similar,’’ Selvaratnam  said. “We have a good team. All of the girls would be capable of being in the top five of some other team. We (coaches) are very happy with the way things are going.’’

Of the returnees, sophomore Kate Hauptman was the top Xavier finisher at state, coming home in third place. Senior Ivy Song was sixth, sophomore Jayden Jevnick was 11th, now-graduated Lauren Garcia was 16th and junior Annie Dawson was 29th.

Xavier also showed its strength and class in the National High School Golf Association national tournament in Pinehurst, N.C., over the summer, finishing as the runner-up.

Song is ready, as are fellow seniors Ava Mayberger, Kate Ryan and Audrey Sanchez.

“You think about all of that and you can feel the excitement for this season,’’ Song said. “We can’t wait to get back into action. We want to grow as individuals this season, but we also want to grow as a team.’’

“The state tournament and national tournament helped give us confidence,’’ Ryan said. “We want to be good players, but we also want to be good role models.’’

Mayberger and Sanchez have enlisted the advice of sports psychologists (different ones) to help them with the mental aspects of their game.

“I think I’ve gotten a lot better mentally, and it has helped me hit the ball better and putt better,’’ Mayberger said.

“I also have seen better scores,’’ Sanchez said. “I had some anxiety for tournaments, but the psychologist helped quite a bit with that and strategizing about the rounds.’’

The seniors have thought about trying to play in college after they graduate from Xavier, but even if that doesn’t happen, they agree that they have the confidence gained from playing here, the knowledge of learning a lifetime sport and the friendship and support of the sisterhood to carry them along in whatever they decide to do.

Xavier prep golf 2021

Roster

Seniors – Ava Mayberger, Kate Ryan, Audrey Sanchez, Ivy Song.

Juniors – Annie Dawson, Sophie Stamatis.

Sophomores – Remi Bleyl, Lauren Campbell, Kalyn Doss, Lena Durette, Kate Hauptman, Jayden Jevnick, Kyla Layman, Karter Nannen, Grace Rubelsky, Jorden Weinberg.

Freshmen – Carrie Doss, Aanvi Goel.

Co-head coaches – Sr. Lynn Winsor, Tui Selvaratnam. Assistant – Jane Ladensack.

Schedule

(Subject to change)

Aug. 24 – Scottsdale Desert Mountain,  2:45 p.m. @ Phoenix CC; Aug. 25 – Phoenix Horizon, 3 p.m.  @ Phoenix CC; Aug. 27-28 – Cactus Shadows Invite @ Papago GC, Phoenix, Times TBA.

Sept. 1 – Chandler Basha, 3 p.m. @ Phoenix CC; Sept. 3-4 – Ping Invitational @ Wigwam GC, Litchfield Park; Sept. 8 – Mesa Desert Ridge and Phoenix Desert Vista,  3 p.m. @ Foothills GC, Ahwatukee; Sept. 9 – Aguila Invitational @ Aguila GC, Laveen; Sept. 15 – Gilbert Perry, 2:45 p.m. @ Phoenix CC; Sept. 20 – Goodyear Millennium, 3 p.m. @ Sun City CC; Sept. 22 – Chandler Hamilton, 2:45 p.m. @ Phoenix CC; Sept. 28 – Tempe Corona del Sol, 2:45 p.m. @ Phoenix CC; Sept. 29 – Chandler High and Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, 2:45 p.m. @ Phoenix CC.

Oct. 18 – State preview @ Aguila GC, Laveen, Time TBA; Oct. 19 – Glendale Mountain Ridge, 3 p.m. @ Arrowhead Golf Resort, Glendale;.

Division I state tournament

Nov. 1-2 -- @ Omni Tucson National Sonoran Course, Times TBA.

 

 

New swim coach impressed by Xavier's "great tradition'

 Things are going quite swimmingly for the Xavier Prep swimming and diving team, which features a new head coach and assistant coach and is aiming for a strong showing in its first meet of the year, on Sept. 2 at Chandler High.

New head coach Glen Coy and new assistant David Smithers are putting the athletes through their paces, along with veteran diving coach Frank Pipitone and returning swim assistant Jenny James, who as a former co-head coach with Mark Rankin is providing a smooth transition after Rankin departed the program.

The Gators have a balanced swim roster, with seven seniors, six juniors, six sophomores and 10 freshmen.

Xavier finished second for the third straight year in the Division I state meet behind champion Scottsdale Chaparral.

Those returning swimmers who placed in the Division I state meet in an individual and/or relay event are senior Asleigh Baros, senior Grace Hull, senior Dylan Miller, senior Gracie Munk, senior Hope Nolan and junior Lainey Weiland.

“Everything has been great so far,’’ said Coy, who was the girls’ swimming head coach at Mesa Mountain View for more than 20 years after starting out as the boys’ head coach for four years at Phoenix Mountain Pointe in Ahwatukee.

“I couldn’t be happier. We have received fantastic support from the administration and everyone here.’’

One of the first things Coy noticed when the Gators recently began their preseason practices, their skill level was beyond other teams. The swimmers picked up some of that at Xavier and some at the club level.

“They’re already doing things at this point in the season that many teams were only getting to by the end of the season,’’ Coy said. “If you can do the little things well, it can lead you to bigger things.’’

Helped by the outstanding group of freshmen, Coy said the Gators are “looking to reload, not rebuild.’’

He is impressed by the program’s “great tradition. I don’t want to change any of that. I just want to carry it on.’’

Xavier has had success across the board in the various events, but seems to step things up a notch or two when it is time for the relays.

Dylan Miller hopes to rise in the sprint events and believes she has developed more confidence.

“The 50 (-yard) free(style) and the 100 free. They are short and fast,’’ she said. “You have to make sure that you’re motivated. And It’s very important to get a good start.’’

She enjoyed working with Mark Rankin and has noticed that Coy’s and Smithers’ approach is similar, “so there isn’t a whole lot of adjustment. Things are not much different. We are all pretty excited.’’

The key goal is replacing the word “runner-up’’ with “champion.’’ Doing so against a powerhouse such as Chaparral is a daunting task.

“It’s been three years (since taking the title) and that gives us plenty of motivation,’’ she said.

One of the younger swimmers to watch is sophomore Elle Edwards. Like Miller, she primarily is a sprinter, but would also like to try other events.

Issues with the COVID virus have limited her time in the pool at the club level over the last year, and she looks forward to making up for lost time.

“The swim team probably puts in more work than any other,’’ she said. “Five or six days a week for practice.’’

Most of the girls have worked with each other at the various club levels or at least know each other, and that’s what makes the bonding aspect at Xavier a lot of fun, she said.

“We are looking forward to the home meets here (at Brophy Prep’s pool) and the pep rallies, and even the traveling to the away meets. We want to show what we can do.’’

Xavier Prep swimming and diving 2021

Swimming roster

Head coach – Glen Coy. Assistant coaches – David Smithers, Jenny James. Diving coach – Frank Pipitone.

Seniors – Ashleigh Baros, Claire Douglas, Grace Hull, Daisy Maldonado, Gracie Munk, Hope Nolan, Allegra Wilga.

Juniors – Perla Akiki, Waverly Bagley, Maryn Day, Dylan Miller, Lainey Weiland, Cassie Worth.

Sophomores – Elle Edwards, Ava Gill, Bella Guerra, Brooke Person, Madison Siordian, Sophia Sweatlock.

Freshmen – Kate Berman, Carter Cook, Vivian Edwards, Genevieve George, Malena Lebedeff, Lola Lysak, Ginger Mago, Meredeth Scott, Krysta Tymkiv, Allie Weiland.

Diving roster

TBA.

2021 schedule

(Subject to change)

Sept. 2 -- @ Chandler High, 4 p.m.; vs. Phoenix Pinnacle at Phoenix Paradise Valley Pool, 4 p.m.; Sept. 14 – Scottsdale Chaparral @ Brophy Prep, 4 p.m.; Sept. 17 – Brophy-Xavier Invitational Diving Meet @ Brophy Prep, Time TBA; Sept. 18 – Brophy-Xavier Swimming & Diving Invitational @ Brophy Prep, Time TBA; Sept. 23 – Mesa Mountain View @ Brophy Prep, 4 p.m.

Oct. 14 -- @ Chandler Hamilton, 4 p.m.; Oct. 21 – Phoenix Desert Vista @ Brophy Prep, 4 p.m.


Friday, August 20, 2021

Scrimmage gives Gator badminton a reference point

 Thursday night’s (Aug. 19) preseason scrimmage is in the books, and Xavier Prep’s revamped badminton team now has a better idea of how to proceed as it prepares for its appearance in the Flying Feathers Tournament on Aug. 27-28 at Gilbert Highland.

The Gators battled last year’s Division I state runner-up, Phoenix Sunnyslope, on its home floor. The results were mixed, but Xavier showed the resolve it aims to use during the season.

“It was great to get some play against one of the top two premier badminton teams in the state,’’ said first-year XCP coach Brian McNerney. “The girls definitely showed a lot of heart.’’

McNerney is getting coaching assistance from Sr. Kathleen Sinclair, Xavier’s assistant director of admissions.

Xavier lost its top six players from last year’s team to graduation, and those who have moved up are trying to develop their skills so they can be competitive.

McNerney said junior Riley Dowdall took her opponent to three games (team scores were not kept) “and did a remarkable job of keeping her opponent off balance with a barrage of deep “clears’’ followed by drops or smashes to the front court.’’

The No. 1 doubles team of Gigi Riviere and Sophia Bonilla took Sunnyslope to the limit before dropping a narrow decision.

The JV/exhibition team also participated, and freshmen Maggie Henry and Corinne Ladha played well against opponents with more experience.


Playing with guts will lead to volleyball glory for XCP

 The 2020 volleyball season caused most teams to struggle with uncertainty.

“It was tough sometimes wondering if you would ever be able to get back in the gym. It wasn’t promised to anyone,’’ said Xavier Prep coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.

As the 2021 season approaches, things appear to be much more stable by comparison. The Gators, who finished 10-7 (including postseason) after falling to Premier Region rival Gilbert Perry in the 6A Conference quarterfinals.

Now the Gators are set to play 17 regular-season matches, as well as a large tournament (Tournament of Champions at Mesa Westwood) before embarking on their annual state-tournament journey.

“We are excited to move forward,’’ Bryant said.

Xavier lost three players to graduation and two more left the program. That helped to open the door open for six new players – one senior, two juniors, one sophomore and two freshmen.

Bryant will have 15 players on the roster, including team captain Alexa Shiner (setter) and four other seniors – middle blocker Isabella Sinacori, outside hitters Tiffany Tellez and Emma Soderstrom, and defensive specialist/libero Hannah Ulisch.

Senior setter and captain Alexa Shiner is ready to make an impact for Xavier's volleyball team in the 2021 season. (Photo by Don Ketchum).

The Gators don’t have as much height as they have in some past years, and will need to make up for that with aggressiveness and most of all, defense, a team staple.

“Dig, serve, pass and defense at a high level have always been strengths for Xavier,’’ Bryant said.

Xavier will participate in an annual four-way team scrimmage with defending 6A champion Chandler Hamilton, Chandler Basha and Phoenix Sunnyslope on Aug. 25. The scrimmage usually is at Hamilton, but this year goes to Basha because Hamilton is having its gym floor resurfaced.

As the setter, Shiner will be the team’s “quarterback’’ as she has been in two previous varsity seasons.

Success as a setter comes, she said, “from knowing who’s around you, both your side and the other side. Your hands channel the pass and you try to make the right decision. You need to be consistent.’’

Shiner recently made her college commitment to Westmont in Santa Barbara, Calif.

“It is a good fit athletically and in academics,’’ she said.

But before she heads to Cali, Shiner would like to help the Gators unseat Hamilton.

“We are excited for another season,’’ said Shiner, who also played for XCP’s beach volleyball state champions earlier this spring. “We have come out (for preseason practice) and everyone connected with each other, even the new players. We are focused.’’

Xavier Prep volleyball 2021

Varsity roster (listed alphabetically)

Mia Accomazzo,  So., L/DS; Emma Caruso, Jr., MB; Ava Larkin, Jr., OH; Olivia Lenz, Fr., DS/L; Maddie MacDonald, Jr., S; Elle McCreery, Fr., MB; Theresa Romero, Sr., MB; Alexa Shiner, Sr., S; Isabella Sinacori, Sr., MB; Emma Soderstrom, Sr., OH; Kate Tax, Jr., OH; Tiffany Tellez, Sr., OH; Kristy Tom, Jr., S; Hannah Ulisch, Sr., DS/L; Finley Workman, So., OH.

Position key – L/DS – libero/defensive specialist; MB – Middle blocker; OH – Outside hitter; S – Setter.

Coaching staff

Head coach – Lamar-Renee Bryant. Assistant coaches – Anna Panagiotakopoulos, Jamie Itule.

Schedule

(Subject to change)

Aug. 31 -- @ Mesa Mountain View, 6 p.m.

Seot. 2 – Mesa High @ XCP, 6 p.m.; Sept. 9 – Phoenix Mountain Pointe @ XCP, 6 p.m. Sept. 10-11 – Tournament of Champions @ Mesa Westwood and other sites, TBA; Sept. 14 -- @ Scottsdale Chaparral, 6 p.m.; Sept. 15 – Anthem Boulder Creek @ XCP, 6 p.m.; Sept. 16 -- @ Phoenix Desert Vista (Ahwatukee), 6 p.m.; Sept. 21 – Chandler Basha @ XCP, 6 p.m.; Sept. 23 -- @ Chandler High, 6 p.m.; Sept. 28—Gilbert Perry @ XCP, 6 p.m.; Sept. 30 -- @ Chandler Hamilton, 6 p.m.

Oct. 6 – Phoenix Sunnyslope @ XCP, 6 p.m.; Oct. 7 – Peoria Liberty @ XCP, 6 p.m.; Oct. 13 -- @ Chandler Basha, 6 p.m.; Oct. 14 – Chandler High @ XCP, 6 p.m.; Oct. 19 -- @ Gilbert Perry, 6 p.m.; Oct. 20 -- @ Tempe Corona del Sol, 6 p.m.; Oct. 26 – Chandler Hamilton  @ XCP, 6 p.m.

 

 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Xavier badminton team has new look in 2021

 Two primary dynamics have entered the picture for the Xavier Prep badminton team in the fall of 2021.

First, there are two new coaches. Brian McNerney is the head coach and Sr. Kathleen Sinclair is the assistant. McNerney was the assistant for Laura Forbes a season ago, and he steps in after Forbes retired. He is a member of the faculty (chemistry) and Sinclair is Xavier’s assistant director of admissions.

Second, there is the team itself. The Gators will have six new players on the varsity roster, due to the fact that the six main players from last season all graduated. Most of the new players played for the junior varsity last season, and a few played briefly in varsity matches.

The team’s top players are expected to be junior Gigi Riviere and seniors Jasmine Leyva and Sophia Bonilla. All will play singles and doubles.

Junior Gigi Riviere is expected to be one of the leaders of Xavier's badminton team this season. (Photos by Don Ketchum).

The team had its first full workout on Monday (Aug. 16) and will scrimmage at Phoenix Sunnyslope on Thursday (Aug. 18). The Gators will play in the Flying Feathers invitational tournament at Gilbert Highland on Aug. 27 and 28, and then play their first one-on-one match on Aug. 31 against Mesa Mountain View, which will be XCP’s home opener in the Activity Center.

In the first full practice, McNerney wanted his players to concentrate on footwork and conditioning.

“I think the biggest misnomer about badminton is that it is not a sport, and people also assume it is a non-athletic sport,’’ McNerney said. “Some players might not like it, but you need to have conditioning, because most teams (opponents) are goiong to try to exhaust you.’’

He pointed to a player who was at Chandler Hamilton a few years ago who was a cross-country runner, and in his view how much of a difference that made in her badminton game.

Other aspects that need attention are keeping the rackets up as much as possible while in a defensive position and concentrating on getting serves over the net.

“If you drop your racket (lower) it can be harder to raise it back up (in time to make a play),’’ McNerney said. “And you’ve got to make sure those serves get over. Last year, we gave up too many cheap points.’’

Riviere has some good athleticism. In addition to her badminton experience, she was a key part of Xavier’s drive to the club lacrosse state championship game earlier this spring. She relied on her quickness to get her in and out of traffic and set up teammates or shoot the ball herself. Riviere’s sister, Sophie, played badminton last year before graduating and now is in college in Michigan.

“I’m excited about this season,’’ Gigi said. “I really like all the girls on this team. All of us have . here in badminton. And I need to keep working on my footwork.’’

Leyva admits that she gets a little nervous once in awhile, “but it helps that this is a team sport and that it’s not all on you. You have your teammates to back you up. All the games (in the match) matter equally.

“All of us are adapting. We are in high spirits. We want to get the program back to championship possibilities.’’

All the uncertainty around the Covid virus affected athletes last year, and Leyva said that the team knows how to better deal with it this time around.

If McNerney needs a voice among the players to step in as a leader, it likely would be Bonilla. She helped demonstrate various elements during the first full practice, speaking in a loud, clear voice.

Senior Sophie Bonilla is a vocal player on whom the coaches will rely.


“I think I probably am the most vocal,’’ Bonilla said. “I want to help all of us connect. But I don’t want them (teammates) to think I’m pushing anything on them, telling them what to do. I just want to show them examples.

“You obviously want to win, but it’s not completely about that. You have to learn the game better to get to step up to that next level. We know we are not going to be perfect. We just have to continue to work hard.’’

Xavier Prep badminton 2021

Varsity roster

(Subject to change)

Gigi Riviere, Jr.; Jasmine Leyva, Sr.; Sophia Bonilla, Sr.; Riley Dowdall, Jr.; Caroline Cobb, Sr.,; Dani Rivera, Sr.

Junior-varsity roster

Kasia Smigielski, So.; Lila Williams, So.; Lexi Garman, Jr.; Sarah Castlen, Jr.; Maggie Henry, Fr.; Corinne Ladna, Fr.

Additional key players

Carmela Wilson, Fr.; Ava Hilsabeck, Jr.; Sienna Janasek, Fr.; Jacquie Vogel, Fr.; Marlee McCloskey, So.; Reagan Perez, Fr.

2021 schedule

(Subject to change)

Aug. 27-28 – Flying Feathers tournament @ Gilbert Highland. Aug. 31 -- Mesa Mountain View @ XCP, 4 p.m.

Sept. 2 -- @ Glendale Mountain Ridge, 4 p.m.; Sept. 7 -- @ Mesa High, 4 p.m.; Sept. 9 -- @ Phoenix Mountain Pointe (Ahwatukee), 4 p.m.; Sept. 14 – Scottsdale Chaparral @ XCP, 4 p.m.; Sept. 16 – Phoenix Desert Vista @ XCP, 4 p.m.; Sept. 23 – Gilbert Perry @ XCP, 4 p.m.; Sept. 29 -- @ Mesa Skyline, 4 p.m.; Sept. 30 – Chandler Hamilton @ XCP, 4 p.m.;

Oct. 6 -- @ Phoenix Sunnyslope, 4 p.m.; Oct. 7 -- @ Peoria Liberty, 4 p.m.; Oct. 12 – Tempe Corona del Sol @ XCP, 4 p.m.; Oct. 13 – Chandler Basha @ XCP, 4 p.m.; Oct. 14 -- @ Chandler High, 4 p.m.


Monday, August 16, 2021

V-ball's Sinacori, Shiner make college commitments

 Two Xavier Prep senior volleyball players have made commitments to study and play volleyball in college.

They are 6-foot front-liner Isabella “Bella’’ Sinacori and 5-7 setter Alexa Shiner.

Sinacori will attend the College of Charleston (S.C.), while Shiner will be headed toward Westmont (Santa Barbara, Calif.). Shiner also played for XCP’s state championship beach volleyball team.


Thursday, August 12, 2021

Fab Four senior softball players commit to next level

 The future is bright for Xavier Prep’s Fab Four.

Four seniors who as junior players helped Xavier win the first state softball championship in the school’s history earlier this year are hoping for a repeat before heading off to play and study at some prestigious four-year colleges.

The players – shortstop Bridget Donahey, pitcher Riley Flynn, outfielder-infielder Emma Petersen and second baseman Meghan Schouten – made verbal commitments to their colleges on Wednesday (Aug. 11), according to the azcentral.com Web site.

Donahey will play at Northwestern University just outside of Chicago, Flynn will play at Harvard, an Ivy League school in Cambridge, Mass., Petersen will play at Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y., and Schouten will play at Boston College.

The last two are Catholic institutions.

Xavier is proud of these young women and is grateful of the examples they set on the field and in the classroom.


Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Gator volleyball gets academic award for 2020-21

 The Xavier Prep indoor volleyball team has shown that it is as good in the classroom as it is on the court.

The Gators are one of Arizona’s honorees for the United States Marine Corps/American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Award for the 2020-21 school year. College and high school teams from across the nation were recognized.

Xavier head coach Lamar-Renee Bryant was recognized for her leadership skills.

In a notification/congratulatory letter from the USMC/AVCA, it said Bryant was a coach who kept her program afloat during a challenging time (Covid pandemic).

The letter stated, “Volleyball coaches continued to demonstrate their important role supportingplayers’ academic achievements. Lamar-Renee was a crucial anchor for players adjusting tochanging school experience.’’

Xavier’s 2021-22 season opener is set for Aug. 31 at Mesa Mountain View (subject to change). Mountain View was another recipient of a Team Academic Award, along with Phoenix Arizona Lutheran, Chandler High, Tempe Corona del Sol, Phoenix Desert Vista (Ahwatukee), Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge (Tucson) and Glendale Mountain Ridge.