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.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Golfers aim for 2nd title in row, 38th overall

 Xavier Prep’s golfers are ready to go for the Division I state tournament, where the Gators will attempt to win their second straight crown and the 38th overall in school history.

The tournament tees off on Monday (Nov. 1) and continues on Tuesday (Nov. 2) at the Omni Tucson National golf resort, where the players will play the Sonoran Course, which has more rugged and up-and-down terrain than the more traditional Catalina.

Xavier has sent its golfers down to the course in recent weeks to get a feel for their surroundings.

The strength of the team is its versatility. Almost any one of the golfers can get their game going on any given day.

Three of this year’s players finished in the top 12 a year ago on the Catalina – sophomore (then freshman) Kate Hauptman (third), senior (then junior) Ivy Song (sixth) and sophomore (then freshman) Jayden Jevnick (11th).

Also, keep an eye on junior Annie Dawson and sophomore Lena Durette, the latter playing well late in the season and playing  in her first state tournament. Sophomore Kalyn Doss will be available as an alternate.

Xavier is led by co-head coaches Sr. Lynn Winsor and Tui Selvaratnam and assistant Jane Ladensack.

Runners swing through sectional on way to state

 The road to the cross-country medals stand continues on Tuesday (Nov. 2) when Xavier Prep competes in the Southwest Section state qualifying event at Cesar Chavez Park in Laveen.

Qualifiers from the 10:15 a.m. race would then go to the Division I state meet on Nov. 13 at the Cave Creek Golf Course in north Phoenix. Xavier last won the state title in 2018 and had three consecutive big seasons in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Xavier has had perhaps the largest group of runners in its history this fall, numbering in the upper 40s.

Among the individual contenders for the Gators are seniors Hannah Wheeling, Tatum Goforth and Catherine Alaimo. Top juniors are Reese Brown, Reyna Silva, Nora Hinkle and Cassara Ryan. And among the sophomore standouts are Lily Beaver and Summer Goodman.

Xavier’s last individual state champion was Sarah Carter, in 2015.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Gators await state v-ball after win over Mesa

 With a previously arranged eighth-grade program set for Xavier Prep’s Activity Center on Friday (Oct. 29), the school’s volleyball team had to find another place to play in Thursday night’s (Oct. 28) regular-season finale against Mesa High.

The Brophy Prep gym next door fit the bill and the Gators were right at home, scoring a 3-0 sweep of the Jackrabbits. Scores were 25-10, 25-14 and 25-16. Xavier finished the regular season at 22-10 while Mesa was at 11-13.

The victory ended a three-game Xavier losing streak and gives the Gators a bit of momentum heading into the 6A state tournament that begins next week.

Xavier will begin state play at home on Thursday (Nov.5) as one of the top eight seeds that have been determined by Arizona Interscholastic Association power points rankings. Those were released on Friday (Oct. 29).

Seeds 9-24 will compete in a “play-in game’’ on Tuesday (Nov. 2), and the winners of those contests will advance into the tournament and play in the first round on Thursday. The brackets and final rankings will be announced after the play-in games.

The top eight seeds, listed alphabetically but not by rank, are Scottsdale Chaparral, Tempe Corona del Sol, defending champion Chandler Hamilton, Peoria Liberty, Gilbert Perry, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor, Surprise Valley Vista and Xavier Prep.

Play-in games

Tuesday, Nov. 2

All games, 6:30 p.m. Times and locations subject to change

(Seedings in parentheses)

Phoenix Pinnacle (24) at Phoenix Sunnyslope (9), Anthem Boulder Creek (17) at Gilbert Highland (16), Maricopa High (18) at Laveen Cesar Chavez (15), Chandler High (21) at Phoenix Desert Vista (12), Mesa High (22) at Chandler Basha (11), Surprise Shadow Ridge (20) at Tucson Rincon/University (13), Avondale Westview (19) at Queen Creek (14), Yuma Cibola (23) at Mesa Mountain View (10).

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Huskies lower v-ball boom with their brooms vs. XCP

 Chandler Hamilton has a very good volleyball team, certainly good enough to repeat as the 6A Conference state champion.

And that doesn’t tell the whole story, particularly for whoever faces the Huskies after they have lost.

That was the predicament that Xavier Prep’s Gators found themselves in on Wednesday night (Oct. 26), when they played host to Hamilton.

In its previous match on Oct. 21, Hamilton was swept 3-0 by Premier Region rival Gilbert Perry.

The Huskies were a bit miffed, and they played like it.

After a close contest against Xavier in Game 1 (the Huskies won 25-21), Hamilton unleashed state title-caliber play. The digs were plentiful, the sets were strong and the kills were mercilessly pounded anywhere, everywhere and often.

A 25-12 victory in Game 2 and a 25-14 triumph in Game 3 sealed the 3-0 sweep.

It was Hamilton’s second sweep over the Gators this season, and the third sweep in a row by Xavier opponents on this tough stretch of road in October – the others were by Perry and Tempe Corona del Sol. Xavier had put together four straight sweeps before the road turned treacherous.

Xavier is now 21-10 and has maintained the No. 6 spot in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s power points list, with Hamilton at No. 2 at 28-5 behind leader Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.

Xavier’s final regular-season match will be on Thursday (Oct. 28) against Mesa High. However, the 6 p.m. contest will be played at next-door neighbor Brophy Prep (details below).

How dominant was Hamilton against the Gators?

Hamilton had 47 kills, Xavier had 14. Hamilton had 10 blocks, Xavier had none. Hamilton had 47 digs, Xavier had 25.

Xavier had 10 assists, all by setter Alexa Shiner. Shiner also had 6 digs, with libero Hannah Ulisch getting 7.

Home “regular season finale’’

Day/time: Thursday, Oct. 28, 6 p.m.

Location: Brophy Prep’s Robson Gym (main gym)

Parking: Brophy South lot

Entrance: Through the neighboring Dutch Gym and into the main gym

Tickets: Table set up outside the entrance. Tickets can be purchased at the site on the day of the match, cash only and no credit cards.

Refreshments: None. No access to snack bar. Only water permitted.

6A Conference state tournament

There will be a “play-in’’ tournament on Nov. 2 between seeds 9-24 on the power points list. Winners advance to the state tournament that begins Nov. 4. The top eight seeds will open the tournament at home against the winners (re-seeded) of the play-in games.

The opening games of the state tournament will be seeds 16 at 1, 15 at 2, 14 at 3, 13 at 4, 12 at 5, 11 at 6, 10 at 7 and 9 at 8.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Grueling badminton season was learning process

Xavier Prep’s trip to the Division I team badminton tournament was short-lived on Monday (Oct. 25), falling to four-time defending state champion Gilbert Perry in the opening round, 5-0. But the Gators can take some solace in what they overcame to make a go of it.

The team began the season with not a lot of experience at the varsity level after its previous group of seniors graduated.

The “new’’ seniors took their lumps, but they played well at times, including at a tournament early in the season.

As the season moved along, some of the underclassmen began to show some promise, and it was enough to land the Gators the No. 15 seeding (out of 16) and set up the meeting with Perry.

First-year coach Brian McNerney now can look ahead to next season, knowing the cupboard will not be completely bare.

Division I first round

Monday, at Perry

No. 2 Gilbert Perry 5, No. 15 Xavier Prep 0


Kaylee Ross, P, def. Gigi Riviere, X, 21-9, 21-16; Jayden Montano, P, def. Sophia Bonilla, X, 21-12, 21-8; Lauren Faust, P, def. Riley Dowdall, X, 21-9, 21-8; Emma Cross, P, def. Lexi Garman, X, 21-15, 21-12; Emma James, P, def. Caroline Cobb, X, 21-6, 21-8.

XCP mountain bike group getting bigger, better

Watch out, Xavier mountain biking group is comin' at ya!! (Photo courtesy of Rich Perrott).

Mountain biking competition is increasing in popularity across the state that according to the Xavier Prep/Brophy Prep club team coach Rich Perrott, the Xavier group is the largest female team ever to race in the nine-year history of the Arizona Interscholastic Cycling League.

The Gators/Broncos finished second behind Queen Creek Casteel for the fourth time in as many races after the circuit’s South Conference Division 1 on Saturday (Oct. 23) at the White Tank Regional Park in the west Valley community of Waddell.

The Xavier group, which features 13 riders at the various levels, has a total of 12,496 points thus far, just 133 points behind Casteel entering the state championship race on Nov. 7 at the Wren Arena in Fort Huachuca.

Xavier had the fourth- and fifth-place finishers in the 20-mile (4 loops of 5 miles) in the Varsity race, Aria Tseffos (fourth) and Mary Hill (fifth).

The Gators also have had strong efforts from Grace Morgan in the JV races this season, and she came through again on Saturday with a fifth-place finish in the 3-loop race.

Strong showing for Gator runners in Mt. SAC event

 Xavier Prep’s cross-country teams represented the school and community in impressive style on Saturday (Oct. 23) in the Mt. SAC Invitational meet that featured top teams from the western U.S. and California.

The event in Walnut, Calif., had Xavier finishing second in the 3-mile Division 1 and 2 JV Sweepstakes Race, and the all-senior varsity lineup was 10th in the 3-mile Division 1 and 2 Varsity Individual Sweepstakes race.

Xavier had 11 runners in the JV race and seven runners in the Varsity race. Xavier tallied 80 points in the JV race, second behind the top-rated 40 points listing by Great Oak High of Temecula, Caif. In the Varsity race, Xavier totaled 228 points in its 10th-place finish.

In the JV race, XCP had three runners finish in the top 10. They were sophomore Lily Beaver, fifth at 20:07, junior Reese Brown, seventh at 20:13, and sophomore Summer Goodman, ninth at 20:17. Great Oak had the top two individual runners.

Other finishers in the JV race were junior Holland Carey, 30th at 21:14; sophomore Bella Gomez, 32nd at 21:19; junior Reyna Silva, 35th at 21:23; junior Nora Hinkle, 39th at 21:25; junior Cassara Ryan, 40th at 21:27; junior Kylie Graf, 49th at 21:58; sophomore Sophia Maroufkani, 61st at 22:34 and junior Sarai Arkeveld, 67th at 22:35.

The senior group in the Varsity race was Hannah Wheeling, 23rd at 19:12, Tatum Goforth, 24th at 19:14; Catherine Alaimo, 42nd at 19:57; Macarthy Mahoney, 64th at 20:22; Karime Morales, 80th at 21:10; Erika Germinario, 92nd at 21:53, and Melissa Mansour, 96th at 22:11.

Xavier’s next action comes on Nov. 2, when the Gators run in the Division SW Sectional at Cesar Chavez Park in Laveen. Teams and runners will be attempting to qualify for the state meet, on Nov. 13 at the Cave Creek Golf Course in north Phoenix.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Swimmers, divers have Hope, so don't count them out

 To the Xavier Prep swimmers and divers and the fans who follow them . . .

When you are exhausted, down in the dumps and wondering what is next, do not worry.

There is always Hope.

Senior Hope Nolan is one of the most versatile athletes and lifts up the Gators, who edged out visiting Phoenix Desert Vista by one droplet of water, 95-94, on Thursday (Oct. 21) in XCP’s final dual meet of the regular season at Brophy Prep.

Hope Nolan is one of Xavier's senior leaders this season (Photo by Don Ketchum).

Nolan helped XCP win the 200-yard freestyle relay, finish second in the 400-yard freestyle relay, finished second in the 200-yard individual medley and third in the 100-yard butterfly.

In some of the bigger meets, she also swims in the 100-yard breaststroke.

Of course, there is no bigger meet than for the Division I state championship, which this season will be held Nov. 5-6 at the Skyline Aquatic Center in east Mesa. The diving will be held at Brophy.

“I would like to “podium,’’ (stand as one of the top three survivors in state events),’’ Nolan said.

“This is my favorite time of the year. I have trained super hard, especially this year, and a great finish like that would prove that I am one of the best of them,’’ she said.

Nolan, who swam for and learned about much of her experience with the Phoenix Swim Club, will  continue to swim at one of the top Catholic universities in the country, Fordham, in the New York City borough of the Bronx.

She recently made her commitment there and is looking forward to working with the coaching staff and her future teammates.

“I’m super excited to be able to go there,’’ she said, acknowledging she has met a few of the players and coaches.

The team has an international influence, with swimmers coming from Kenya, Denmark, Spain, Brazil and Finland.

Nolan has been to Fordham a few times, enjoying the atmosphere, but will not forget the atmosphere and the traditions at Xavier.

One of those traditions continued before the Desert Vista meet, where the swimmers gathered in a big group and went through a series of cheers. Everyone also took a brief break during the meet to celebrate Senior Day.

“Those kinds of things mean a lot,’’ Nolan said. “We are all super close. One of the most fun things is when you dive off the (starting) block and having everybody right there behind you, cheering for you.’’

Xavier’s top finishers

Xavier Prep 95, Desert Vista 94

200-yard medley relay – Xavier “A,’’ 2nd, 1:57.54 (Claire Douglas, Ashleigh Baros, Grace Hull, Lainey Weiland); Xavier “B,’’ 3rd, 1:57.59 (Carter Cook, Ava Gill, Ginger Mago, Daisy Maldonado).

200-yard freestyle – Daisy Maldonado, 2nd, 2:09.52; Claire Douglas, 3rd, 2:12.00; Ava Gill, 5th, 2:15.56.

200-yard individual medley – Hope Nolan, 2nd, 2:16.78; Grace Hull, 4th, 2:23.90; Ginger Mago, 5th, 2:27.48.

50-yard freestyle – Gracie Munk, 1st, 24.76; Dylan Miller, 3rd, 26.20; Lainey Weiland, 4th, 26.41.

100-yard butterfly – Gracie Munk, 1st, 57.97; Hope Nolan, 3rd, 1:00.25; Grace Hull, 4th, 1:03.49.

100-yard freestyle – Daisy Maldonado, 2nd, 56.25; Dylan Miller, 3rd, 57.42; Lainey Weiland, 4th, 59.24.5th

500-yard freestyle – Ashleigh Baros, 3rd, 5:35.18; Elle Edwards, 6:01.80.

200-yard freestyle relay – Xavier “A,’’ 1st, 1:42.93 (Gracie Munk, Hope Nolan, Dylan Miller, Daisy Maldonado); Xavier “B,” 3rd, 1:51.40 (Cassie Worth, Malina Lebedeff, Elle Edwards, Ashleigh Baros).

100-yard backstroke – Claire Douglas, 1st, 1:02.98; Carter Cook, 2nd, 1:06.19; Ginger Mago, 3rd, 1:07.37.

100-yard breaststroke – Ava Gill, 3rd, 1:14.62; Bella Guerra, 5th, 1:17.50.

400-yard freestyle relay – Xavier, 2nd, 3:43.54 (Gracie Munk, Hope Nolan, Dylan Miller, Lainey Weiland); Xavier, 3rd, 3:58.98 (Ginger Mago, Carter Cook, Ashleigh Baros, Grace Hull).

1-meter diving – Claira Chong, 3rd, 183.67 points; Michelle Mierzwa, 4th, 163.20; Anatasia Bhatti, 5th, 125.92.

Singles, doubles badminton players exit early at state

 Xavier Prep badminton players made an appearance in Friday’s (Oct. 22) first day of Division I state tournament competition at Glendale Independence, but did not stay as long as they would have liked.

In singles, senior Jasmine Leyva won her first-round match against Adamaris Lopez Morales of Chandler High, advancing to the quarterfinals with a 21-9, 21-12 victory. That second match was much more of a challenge as Chandler Hamilton’s Samiya Bodhankar cruised to a 21-2, 21-5 win, eliminating Leyva.

The Xavier doubles team of junior Gigi Riviere and senior Sophia Bonilla took Mesa Skyline’s Shadyn Russo and Emily Muir to a full three sets in the first round, but the Skyline duo won 16-21, 21-19 and 21-12.

The full Xavier team, meanwhile, enters the team portion of the tournament on Monday (Oct. 25) as the No. 15 seed, traveling to face No. 2 seed and four-time defending state champion Gilbert Perry at 6 p.m.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Gators have 19 runners in prestigious Mt. SAC

 Nineteen of Xavier Prep’s cross-country runners are about to share the experience of a lifetime – to run in the prestigious Mt. SAC (Mount San Antonio College) Invitational on Saturday (Oct. 23) in the southern California community of Walnut.

The event is one of the largest in the world, according to Xavier coach Dave Van Sickle, and includes elementary, junior college and high school runners. Some of the competitors ran last weekend, but there are plenty left over.

High schools will have five divisions, running on both days, and there will be sweepstakes races on both days. The races will be 3 miles in length.

The Xavier runners are:

Seniors – Catherine Alaimo, Erika Germinario, Tatum Goforth, Macarthy Mahoney, Marissa Mansour, Karime Morales and Hannah Wheeling.

Juniors – Sarai Arkeveld, Reese Brown, Holland Carey, Kylie Graf, Nora Hinkle, Cassara Ryan, Reyna Silva and Naomi Young.

Sophomores – Lily Beaver, Bella Gomez, Summer Goodman and Sophia Maroufkani.

State badminton bracket includes 3 XCP players

 Xavier Prep will have one singles entry and one doubles team participating in the annual Division I state individual competition.

The tournament will be held Friday (Oct. 22) and Saturday (Oct. 23) at Independence High in Glendale.

The XCP singles player is senior Jasmine Leyva, who will face Adamaris Lopez-Morales from Chandler High in the first round on Friday morning. If Leyva wins, she would advance to a quarterfinal match later in the day.

The Gators’ doubles team is junior Gigi Riviere and senior Sophia Bonilla. They also will begin play on Friday morning, against Shadyn Russo and Emily Muir of Mesa Skyline. The winner moves on to the quarterfinals later in the day.

The Division I team bracket also has been announced, and Xavier will play at four-time defending champion Gilbert Perry on Monday (Oct. 25).

Volleyball needs to find a way to finish stronger

 When Xavier Prep’s volleyball team reaches the 20-point scoring level against tougher opponents such as Tempe Corona del Sol and Gilbert Perry, the Gators are having difficulty putting those teams away.

It happened at Perry on Tuesday night (Oct. 19) and again at Corona del Sol on Wednesday night (Oct. 20), when XCP was swept in three sets each time. The Gators reached the 20-point mark in each set against Corona, but could not put the Aztecs away.

Corona won by scores of 25-21, 25-23 and 25-20 to put Xavier’s record at 21-9 and Corona’s record at 23-6.

“We are getting so close . . . we are learning how to close out and win,’’ said Xavier Coach Lamar-Renee Bryant. “I wonder if part of the reason for not taking the next step is confidence. We need to follow our seniors. Playing against Corona, we know they are a good team, but so are we.’’

Corona took the early lead in the opening set, followed by a Xavier rally and lead. The decisive moments came about midway through the set, when Corona went on a 7-0 run. The Aztecs held firm after that, and secured the win when one of their returns landed just inside the Xavier sideline for the final point.

Xavier led most of the way in the second set, but Corona rallied when Xavier served long, Corona had a kill and two more points.

In the third set, when Xavier would take the lead, the Aztecs would come right back to tie it or get a brief lead of their own. The final tie came at 19-19, after which Corona scored five in a row, then finished it off with a kill a few moments later.

“We get in our own way and need to get over the doubt,’’ Bryant said.

Xavier’s final two matches of the regular season are at home, on Tuesday (Oct. 26) against defending state champion Chandler Hamilton and on Thursday (Oct. 28) against Mesa High. The latter match was originally scheduled in the early season but moved.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Munk shines in swimming invitational

Xavier Prep senior Gracie Munk is swimming toward one of the strongest seasons in the team’s history.

The latest evidence of that came on Saturday (Oct. 16), when she won two individual events and helped a couple of relay teams to impressive finishes in the Craig Cummins Invitational at the Skyline Aquatic Center in east Mesa.

Munk and fellow senior Hope Nolan finished 1-2 in the 100-yard butterfly. Munk also won the 100-yard backstroke and led the parade in two second-place relay finishes, the 200-yard medley and the 200-yard freestyle.

Xavier will compete in a dual meet on Thursday (Oct. 21) against Phoenix Desert Vista at the Brophy Prep Aquatic Center.

Xavier top finishers

Craig Cummins Invitational

Saturday, Oct. 16

200-yard medley relay – Xavier 2nd, 1:52.45 (Gracie Munk, Ashleigh Baros, Hope Nolan, Dylan Miller).

200-yard freestyle – Ashleigh Baros, 5th, 2:02.45.

50-yard freestyle – Lainey Weiland, 3rd, 25.55.

100-yard butterfly – Gracie Munk, 1st, 57.59; Hope Nolan, 2nd, 58.68; Grace Hull, 6th, 1:01.84.

100-yard freestyle – Daisy Maldonado, Tie-6th, 56.54; Lainey Weiland, 8th, 56.95.

200-yard freestyle relay – Xavier 2nd, 1:40.80 (Gracie Munk, Hope Nolan, Dylan Miller, Lainey Weiland).

100-yard backstroke – Gracie Munk, 1st, 58.46; Claire Douglas, 8th, 1:03.04.

100-yard breaststroke – Hope Nolan, 6th, 1:10.47; Ava Gill, 7th, 1:12.68.

400-yard freestyle relay – Xavier 6th, 3:53.83 (Daisy Maldonado, Ginger Mago, Claire Douglas, Bella Guerra).

State badminton team tourney begins Monday

 Xavier Prep’s badminton team finished the regular season with a victory over Chandler High, allowing the Gators to qualify for the Division I state tournament.

And now the real challenge begins.

When the tournament begins on Monday (Oct. 25), 15th-seeded Xavier (8-10-1) will travel to face four-time defending state champion Gilbert Perry (13-1), the No. 2 seed. Perry had a 9-0 shutout of the Gators at Xavier on Sept. 23.

First-round schedule

(Seedings in parentheses)

All games, 6 p.m.

Queen Creek (16) at Scottsdale Chaparral (1), Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor (9) at Phoenix Desert Vista (8), Peoria Liberty (12) at Mesa Red Mountain (5), Gilbert Highland (13) at Chandler Basha (4), Chandler Hamilton (14) at Phoenix Sunnyslope (3), Mesa Mountain View (11) at Glendale Mountain Ridge (6), Phoenix Pinnacle (10) at Tempe Corona del Sol (7), Xavier Prep (15) at Gilbert Perry (2).

Turning point comes early in Xavier v-ball loss

 It isn’t often when you can look at the first of a three-set volleyball match and say, “Yes, that was the turning point.’’

It happened on Tuesday night (Oct. 19) when Xavier Prep faced host Gilbert Perry in a 6A Conference Premier Region contest.

Perry had defeated Xavier 3-1 on Sept. 28 at Xavier and was looking to dominate again.

The first set was anything but a domination. It was a battle for survival for both teams, the kind you see in the state tournament.

Xavier led most of the way until Perry tied it at 23 with two straight points. The score went back and forth as it approached the decisive 25th point, but it wasn’t over yet.

Xavier then led 26-25 and 27-26, but Perry tallied three points in a row for a 29-27 victory.

A Xavier win might have changed the complexion of the match, but the Pumas asserted themselves in the second game in the style to which their fans have become accustomed, good defense, good passing and powerful swings at the net. The result was a 25-19 win to make it 2-0.

Perry took control of the third set and the match that had some similarities as the first set, and recorded the 3-0 sweep with a 25-22 win over the Gators.

The Pumas raised their overall record to 27-7 while Xavier slipped to 21-8. Perry is third in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s latest power-point rankings, while Xavier managed to maintain its hold on the No. 5 spot.

Xavier is one spot ahead of No. 6 Tempe Corona del Sol, which meets XCP on Wednesday night (Oct. 20) at Corona. The Aztecs (22-6) defeated Xavier 2-1 in the Nike Tournament of Champions on Oct. 2.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Xavier golfers tie for 3rd in State Preview

 Xavier Prep and Peoria Liberty were tied for the top spot among Division I golf teams, but it was two-time defending Division II state champion Oro Valley (Tucson) Ironwood Ridge that took the overall victory on Monday (Oct. 18) with D-II Cave Creek Cactus Shadows second in the State Preview tournament at the Aguila Golf Course in Laveen.

Ironwood Ridge had an overall team score of 300, 12-over par. Cactus Shadows was at 309. Xavier and Liberty were at 312, 24-over par. Liberty had the tournament’s medalist, Mattie Frick, who had a 5-under 67, and won the D-I individual state title a year ago.

Xavier’s top individual was senior Ivy Song, who shot a 3-over 75. The other three golfers who counted toward the team score all were at 7-over 79 – sophomore Lena Durette, sophomore Kate Hauptman and junior Annie Dawson. Sophomore Jayden Jevnick had a 9-over 81.

The three extra players for XCP were sophomore Kalyn Doss, at 5-over 75, sophomore Kyla Layman, at 9-over 81, and sophomore Grace Rubelsky, at 15-over 87.

The Gators now turn their attention to an attempt to win their second straight state title and 38th in school history when they play at the Omni Tucson National Resort’s Sonoran Course on Nov. 1 and 2.

That course features more rugged desert terrain compared to the Catalina Course, which also has been used for state tournaments. The Division II state title will be one week prior, on Oct. 25 and 26, at Tucson Omni National. Xavier has played practice rounds on the Sonoran in recent weeks,to get a feel for the course layout.

State preview team scores

Oro Valley Ironwood Ridge 300, Cave Creek Cactus Shadows 309, Xavier Prep 312, Peoria Liberty 312, Phoenix Pinnacle 320, Goodyear Millennium 323, Chandler Hamilton 326, Waddell Canyon View 330, Anthem Boulder Creek 338, Phoenix Desert Vista 345, Tucson Salpointe Catholic 351, Gilbert Highland 353, Phoenix Arcadia 358, Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor 359, Scottsdale Desert Mountain 360, Glendale Mountain Ridge 394, Scottsdale Chaparral 404, Gilbert Campo Verde 422, Queen Creek 430, Kingman Lee Williams 471.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

AIA nominee: Long journey worth it for Coach Tui

 The sport of golf has taken Tui Selvaratnam on a long journey around the world, from her native Sri Lanka to her current home in Arizona, where she is the Co-Head Golf Coach and Associate Athletic Director at Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix.

Selvaratnam is being nominated by the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) for the honor of National Coach of the Year for 2020-21 by the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS).

She has played in numerous tournaments in her native country, a large island near the southeast coast of India, and was a champion in many areas, including Asia. She also became an outstanding player at Arizona State University, where she earned a degree in Business Management and International Business in 1999.

Due to the civil war that was going on in Sri Lanka, Selvaratnam decided to go back to the United States after graduating from college and was employed by the Arizona Golf Association. In 2006, her good friend from college, a Xavier graduate, mentioned that Sister Lynn Winsor, the Athletic Director and head golf coach, was looking for a golf coach to help out.

Selvaratnam met Winsor, who offered her a part-time position (three months) as a golf coach. She also filled a part-time position in the school’s admissions office.

Xavier won its 25th state title in 2006!

A full-time school-staff position opened up in the advancement office. She started that in July of 2007, continued to serve as an assistant for Winsor, and in 2011 became Co-Head Coach with Winsor and the Associate Athletic Director.

Golf coach Tui Selvaratnam (Xavier photo).

Selvaratnam’s plate was more than full with her Xavier roles as well as that of a wife (married in 2011 to Kye Hattemar) and mother (their daughter, Keyanna, was born in 2013).

But she has learned to handle all of that, and has not looked back.

She was recently notified of her nomination and will send all of her pertinent information later this month to the AIA, which then will forward to the NFHS.

“I was very surprised and humbled (to be nominated), and it is an honor to be recognized,’’ Selvaratnam said.

A self-admitted longshot to make it when she first started at ASU, she was a walk-on and then earned her golf scholarship. She was coached by long-time former ASU golf coach Linda Vollstedt and was a part of three NCAA National Championship teams and one runner-up.

That turned out to be a similar experience to what she has had at Xavier, which to date has won 37 state championships.

“It may not seem like it to those who follow the sport, but it is hard to win something like that,’’ Selvaratnam said. “You have to put a lot of work into it and believe in yourself. I want our Xavier girls to realize hard work, dedication helps you to get to the top.’’

She has continued to play at various events in Arizona and across the country and her game remains sharp.

She has watched the golf landscape in the state continue to sprout with outstanding young players.

“There is a lot of competition out there. It is getting stronger,’’ she said. “Our girls are still in there competing for scholarships.’’

Winsor has been a “great role model for me and all our players,’’ Selvaratnam said. “Her energy and enthusiasm is awesome.’ She loves all of the girls. I try to take that approach with them.’’

One aspect from which Selvaratnam will not waver is having the golfers give back to the community by volunteering. She learned that from her parents and wants that to be part of the XCP program.

Golf, education and community service – a complete experience.

“I love doing what I do,’’ Selvaratnam said. “I want to do this as long as I can, maybe be here when my daughter comes along.’’

She is doing it the right way. It has been worth the journey.

AIA nominee: Tennis worked out well for Martin

 When Laurie Martin grew up in southern California, she participated in many activities, including working with horses in some rural areas near the city of Chino.

Tennis, however, was not one of them. Oh, she knew about the sport, but had little or no experience playing until she got older.

She came to Arizona State to study broadcast journalism. Much of her free time was spent learning how to play tennis. She later worked at one tennis facility out of state and then went to the John Gardiner Tennis Ranch in Paradise Valley.

After getting married and having four children, including twins, she developed an interest in possibly becoming a coach.

“I stepped away from it for awhile, then as my kids got a little older, I thought I might get back into it,’’ Martin said. “It has worked out pretty well.’’

In the spring of 2022, she will begin her 17th year as the head coach at Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix. Since beginning at XCP in 2006, she has won five state championships, the most recent in 2019, as well as five state runner-up finishes. Her overall record is 258-15.

It is understandable, then, why the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) is nominating Martin for the National Federation of High Schools National Tennis Coach of the Year for the 2020-21 school year.

Tennis coach Laurie Martin (Xavier photo).

Martin has won coaching awards in Arizona and participated in many tennis organizations across the country. She was a pioneer in the area of freshman tennis, with a “no-cut’’ approach that continues at XCP despite her handing that part of the program off to Judith Hernandez, who is in her second season this fall.

Martin has gathered a great deal of background information and will give it to the AIA by the end of this month, and the AIA will forward it on to the NFHS.

“This (nomination) is a pleasant surprise,’’ she said. “You don’t get into this to win awards, certainly not for yourself. You want your players to play well and do well academically.’’

She knows many of her fellow coaches, including those across the country, “and there are a lot of good ones around.’’

Tennis is a fairly simple game, she says.

“I like the pace. Every time it (ball) crosses the net, something interesting is going to happen,’’ she said.

“It’s two people out there battling, four with doubles. You want them to do their best and have success, but in the end, it’s how they turn out as a person that matters.’’

One of Martin’s most challenging times came in a recent season when eight of her 11 varsity players were injured and she had to mix and match the lineup with some of the players with not as much experience as others.

“That can happen any time, so you have to know your players and be able to adjust,’’ she said.

Martin has coached three individual state champions, two individual singles runners-up, three individual doubles champions and four individual doubles runners-up.

She also emphasizes her players’ involvement in the community.

Since 2014, the Xavier tennis program has raised more than $12,000 for the Guerrant Foundation through participation in various tennis events. Funds went toward helping women start small businesses in third-world countries.

There was a two-day clinic for children at Chicanos Por La Causa. And the team collected equipment for the Nogales Border Exchange. And since 2012, Martin has been a member of the Fr. Joseph Patterson Board of Directors. One of the group’s objectives is to award financial scholarships to low-economic students.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Photos added! Seniors play bigger than life-sized

 As spectators entered Xavier Prep’s Activity Center on Thursday (Oct. 14), they were greeted by six smiling, life-sized cardboard cutouts of the volleyball team’s players who were being honored on Senior Night – Tiffany Tellez, Emma Soderstrom, Isabella Sinacori, Theresa Romero, Hannah Ulisch and Alexa Shiner.

They sure didn’t play like cardboard, however. All were very active and didn’t fold while playing key roles in the Gators’ 3-0 sweep of visiting Chandler High, Xavier’s fourth shutout in a row. Scores were 25-10, 25-8 and 25-15.

Cutouts of three of Xavier's six senior volleyball players. From left, Emma Soderstrom, Hannah Ulisch and Isabella Sinacori (Photos by Sr. Lynn Winsor).

Xavier raised its record to 21-7, while Chandler slipped to 9-16.

“This was a great win for us,’’ said Xavier Coach Lamar-Renee Bryant. “It was a celebration for all the work the seniors have put into this program and helped it along the way.’’

Bryant has been just as impressed by the seniors’ work in the classroom.

“It is tough being a student here, the high standards, and the girls have done very well,’’ she said.

A special night for XCP's volleyball seniors: from left, Emma Soderstrom, Tiffany Tellez, Theresa Romero, Isabella Sinacori, Hannah Ulisch and Alexa Shiner.

Perhaps the coach was the happiest for middle blocker Theresa Romero, who has been a reserve for most of the season. She logged some key time in Game 2, and matched her job description with two key blocks that helped Xavier close out the game with a 12-0 run.

In the recent Nike Tournament of Champions in the southeast Valley, the Gators were 4-3, but offered up some strong competition against their opponents and were right there in each match.

“We turned the corner there and have continued to play well,’’ Bryant said.

Tiffany Tellez, left, and Isabella Sinacori attempt to block a shot attempt by Chandler.

Tellez also has continued her stellar play. Against Chandler, she had 12 kills, 3 blocked shots and 15 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Finley Workman had 11 kills. Freshman libero Olivia Lenz and setter Shiner had two service aces apiece and Shiner led the team with 29 assists. Ulisch had 11 digs to contribute to the team’s total of 58.

Xavier has two tough road matches next week, on Tuesday (Oct. 19) at Gilbert Perry and Wednesday (Oct. 20) at Tempe Corona del Sol.

Gator volleyball's Soderstrom is Athlete of Week

 Xavier Prep senior outside hitter Emma Soderstrom, one of the team’s leaders this season, has been named by the media outlet as its Girls Athlete of the Week.

She helped the Gators to shutout wins over Phoenix Sunnyslope, Peoria Liberty, Chandler Basha on Wednesday (Oct. 14) and Chandler High on Thursday (Oct. 15).

Soderstrom has proven to be one of the team’s most versatile players, and against Chandler plaed a key role on defense with 14 digs.

Congratulations, Emma !!

Swim-dive dual duel goes in Gators' favor

 Xavier Prep’s swim and dive team battled to a very close but successful finish in its dual meet on Thursday (Oct. 16) at Chandler Hamilton.

The Gators edged out the Huskies  94-92.

In the relay events, Xavier was first and third in the 200-yard freestyle, and second and third in the 200-yard medley and the 400-yard freestyle.

Xavier had victories in five individual events – including 1-meter diving.

Those winners were Hope Nolan in the 200-yard freestyle (2:02.9), Gracie Munk in the 200-yard individual medley (2:13.5), Nolan in the 500-yard freestyle (5:29.5), Munk in the 100-yard backstroke (1:03.5), and Claira Chong in diving (188.55 points).

Other individuals of note . . .

Asleigh Baros, third place in the 200 free (2:06.8), Daisy Maldonado, second in the 50 free (26.25), Lainey Wieland, third in the 50 free (26.63), Grace Hull, second in the 100-yard butterfly (1:03.5), Maldonado, third in the 100 free (58.75), Claire Douglas, second in the 100 back (1:06.6), Ginger Mago, third in the 100 back (1:07.2) and Michelle Mierzwa, second in the 1-meter diving (183.6).

Xavier’s divers are participating on Friday (Oct. 15) in the Craig Cummins Invitational at the Skyline Aquatic Center in east Mesa, and the swimmers will hit the pool on Saturday (Oct. 16) for that portion of the event. Skyline will be the site of the Division I state meet on Nov. 5 and 6. The state diving sompetition will be at Brophy Prep on Nov. 4 and 5.

Good feelings surround badminton after triumph

 Winning the final match of the regular season can do wonders for a player’s outlook.

And Xavier Prep’s badminton team left the Chandler High gym on Thursday (Oct. 14) with smiles on their faces after a 5-4 victory over the host Wolves.

After a 3-3 deadlock at the end of singles play, the Gators survived with two victories in doubles, by the teams of Riley Dowdall and Sophia Bonilla and Lexi Garman and Caroline Cobb.

The Gators finished the regular season at 8-10-1 and now must wait to see if they qualify for the Division I team tournament, with the announcement likely coming from the Arizona Interscholastic Association next week.

Thursday’s results

Xavier Prep 5, Chandler High 4


Tegan Sanders, C, def. Jasmine Leyva, X, 21-15, 16-21, 21-9; Mattie Shumaker, C, def. Gigi Riviere, X, 21-12, 21-16; Sophia Bonilla, X, def. Sabina Guzman, C, 21-10, 21-15; Riley Dowdall, X, def. Adamaris Lopez Morales, C, 15-21, 21-12, 21-18; Lexi Garman, X, def. Isabella Mullen, C, 21-13. 21-12; Sofia Mullen, C, def. Caroline Cobb, X, 19-21, 21-16, 23-21.


Shumaker-Sanders, C, def. Leyva-Riviere, X, 24-22, 21-16; Dowdall-Bonilla, X, def. Lopez Morales-Guzman, 21-10, 21-6; Garman-Cobb, X, def. S. Mullen-I. Mullen, C, 24-22, 21-19.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Gator volleyball wins 20th, hopes to keep going

 Twenty might be plenty of victories for a volleyball team to look back and savor.

Not Xavier Prep’s Gators. They want the entire enchilada.

XCP took another step toward the playoffs on Wednesday night (Oct. 13), with a three-set sweep of host Chandler Basha, the Gators’ second sweep of their 6A Conference Premier Region rival Bears this season.

Scores were 25-19, 25-22 and 25-19. Xavier is 20-7 and holding firm on a top-five spot in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s power points rankings. The Gators will play host to another region rival, Chandler High, on Thursday night (Oct. 14) at the Activity Center.

Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant was pleased with the victory, but noted a few things her team needs to do to maintain its current course.

“You have to be able to serve and pass,’’ she said. “If we do that, get the ball to our hitters, we can win. We struggled a little in the first game, then things got better as we went along.’’

In the first game, the score was tied or was within one or two points near the mid-point, but Xavier re-established itself  and scored the deciding point on a block.

Xavier built a nine-point lead in the second game, but Basha battled back with eight straight points to pull within one at 19-18. A kill by senior middle blocker Bella Sinacori put the finishing touches on the Xavier win.

The Gators maintained control in the third game, but Basha self-destructed at times with a wide serve, a wide return, a long return and a net serve at match point for Xavier.

For the Gators, it’s on to No. 21 and perhaps beyond.

Badminton: doing the math doesn't always calculate

 Somehow, mathematics formulas can do strange things.

Take, for instance, the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s badminton power points list. The 16 teams left standing at the end of the regular season will advance to the Division I state tournament.

Xavier Prep was No. 16 entering Wednesday’s (Oct. 15) Senior Day home finale against Chandler Basha, but fell 8-1. So when the rankings came out on Thursday (Oct. 16), the Gators (7-10-1) saw that they actually had climbed one spot, to No. 15, just ahead of Mesa Desert Ridge. Basha is ranked fourth.

The final team rankings likely will be determined after the last matches of the regular season, on Oct. 19.

Wednesday’s result

Basha 8, Xavier Prep 1


Aubriella Whisler, B, def. Jasmine Leyva, X, 22-20, 21-15; Gigi Riviere, X, def. Sydney Flores, B, 21-16, 21-14; Jordyn Mee, B, def. Sophia Bonilla, X, 21-8, 21-10; Allie Ferin, B, def. Riley Dowdall, X, 21-9, 21-16; Tricia Despain, B, def. Lexi Garman, X, 21-11, 21-2; Talia Walsh, B, def. Caroline Cobb, X, 21-15, 21-13.


Flores-Mee, B, def. Riviere-Leyva, X, 21-13, 21-7; Ferin-Despain, B, def. Dowdall-Bonilla, X, 21-11, 21-10; Whisler-Walsh, B, def. Garman-Cobb, X, 21-8, 21-9.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Sophs produce another great golf achievement


Xavier Prep sophomores Jayden Jevnick, left, and Kate Hauptman (Xavier photo).

Xavier Prep’s assembly line golf production has two more outstanding young players on national display.

They are sophomores Jayden Jevnick and Kate Hauptman. On Sept. 30, they were among the top two teams in the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Qualifier at the Briarwood Country Club in Sun City.

They shared the co-medalist honors (5-under 67) with Berlin Long of Lehi, Utah, and Grace Summerhays of Scottsdale Chaparral. They advance to the USGA Four-Ball tournament in Puerto Rico in April of 2022.

Xavier junior Annie Dawson was listed on the No. 2 alternate team after combining with Brooke McGlasson of Peoria Liberty for a 1-under 71.

The Xavier Prep team will play in a state preview event on Monday (Oct. 18) at the Aguila Golf Course in Laveen. The state tournament will be held Nov. 1-2 at the Tucson Omni National Golf Resort.

Xavier badminton looking over the edge

 It is down to the nitty-gritty for Xavier Prep’s badminton team.

If the Gators hope to reach the Division I state tournament, they likely will have to win their final two matches of the regular season, on Wednesday (Oct. 13) in a Senior Day encounter with Chandler Basha and the finale at Chandler High on Thursday (Oct. 14).

In the most recent Arizona Interscholastic Association power points rankings on Wednesday, XCP (7-9-1) was 16th. The tournament field consists of the top 16 teams.

On Tuesday (Oct. 12), Xavier fell to visiting Tempe Corona del Sol 8-1, the Gators’ third straight setback.

Xavier played four three-set games against Corona (7-4), which now is seventh in the rankings.

Carrying the lone victorious torch for the Gators was rising freshman player Maggie Henry, who defeated the Aztecs’ Abby Rugg, 21-17, 17-21, 21-18.

Tuesday’s result

Corona del Sol 8, Xavier Prep 1


Merilyn Li, CDS, def. Jasmine Leyva, X, 21-6, 21-11; Megan Kirchardt, CDS, def. Gigi Riviere, X, 17-21, 21-13, 21-9; Kayla McDonald, CDS, def. Sophia Bonilla, X, 21-11, 21-18; Adithi Muruganandam, CDS, def. Riley Dowdall, X, 20-22, 21-18, 21-16; Allie Pequeno, CDS, def. Lexi Garman, X, 18-21, 22-20, 21-17; Maggie Henry, X, def. Abby Rugg, CDS, 21-17, 17-21, 21-18.


Kirchardt-McDonald, CDS, def. Riviere-Leyva, X, 9-21, 21-19, 21-15; Muruganandam-Li, CDS, def. Dowdall-Bonilla, X, 21-19, 21-12; Rugg-Pequeno, CDS, def. Henry-Garman, 21-19, 21-11.

Monday, October 11, 2021

XCP/BCP bikers stay close in team race

 The Xavier Prep/Brophy Prep club mountain biking team remains hot on the heels of Queen Creek Casteel in the overall standings of the Arizona Cycling League after three races.

The XCP/BCP riders finished second to Casteel in the latest race on Sunday (Oct. 10) at Pioneer Park in Prescott.

Competing in the South Conference, two Xavier riders in the top group, the Varsity South, did well. Mary Hill was third in the 18.6-mile course (3 loops of 6.2 miles) at 1:36:53.96 and Aria Tseffos was sixth at 1:53:35.69.

Grace Morgan was fifth in the JV-1 South (18.6 miles) at 1:45:29.82. And Rachel Reyes was 10th in the JV-2 South (12.4 miles) at 1:12:40.93.

The fourth and final race of the regular season will be held Oct. 24 at the White Tank Mountain Regional Park in the west Valley community of Waddell.

The high school state championships will be held Nov. 7 at the Wren Arena in Fort Huachuca, south of Tucson.

Friday, October 8, 2021

Successful XCP runners still swarm countryside

 X’s and Oh’s were spread all across the cross-country scoreboard in Friday’s (Oct. 8) Titan Invitational at Crossroads Park in Gilbert.

X’s meaning Xavier and Oh’s meaning, “Oh, they are at it again!!’’

Indeed, the Gators were at the top of their game in this one, winning three divisions (Girls’ 5K Freshmen I & II, Girls’ 5K Open I & II and Girls’ 5K Varsity I & II).

Xavier’s 15 points were tops among the Freshmen, its 46 led the Open (Flagstaff High second) and its 48 led the Varsity (Queen Creek Casteel second).

The Gators had two individual winners, sophomore Lily Beaver in the 5K Open I & II and Maggie Mostoller in the Freshmen I & II. Beaver had a time of 21:08.5 and Mostoller had a time of 23:10.1.

In all, Xavier was represented by 38 runners.

The Gators are tentatively scheduled to participate in an invitational honoring Tucson area athletic administrator John Gleeson on Oct. 16 at the Rolling Hills Golf Course in Tucson.

Friday’s Xavier results

Titan Invitational @ Crossroads Park, Gilbert

Freshman Division I & II 5K

Maggie Mostoller, 1st, 23:10.1; Karina Zavieri, 4th, 24:07.7; Ellie Hilsabeck, 6th, 24:50.9; Lily Bourque, 7th, 25:58.7; Elle Houle, 8th, 24:59.5.

Open Division I & II 5K

Lily Beaver, So., 1st, 21:08.5; Summer Goodman, So., 2nd, 21:18.4; Reyna Silva, Jr., 3rd, 21:40.2; Cassara Ryan, Jr., 4th, 21:44.5; Bella Gomez, So., 6th, 21:56.2; Nora Hinkle, Jr., 7th, 22:01.3; Erika Germinario, Sr., 8th, 22:14.7; Sofia Maroufkani,  So., 11th, 22:35.3.

Marissa Mansour, Sr., 13th, 22:47.9; Alma Melendez, Jr., 15th, 22:52.4; Kylie Graf, Jr., 16th, 22:59.3; Bella Titus, Jr., 17th, 23:01.9; Briony Campisi, Sr., 18th, 23:07.9; Maya Nagaraj, So., 19th, 23:11.2; Olivia Charles, Jr., 21st, Barbara Paez, Jr., 24th, 23:50.5.

Calista Flick, So., 25th, 23:54.3; Sophia Corona, So., 26th, 24:04.0; Jimena Gutierrez, So., 29th, 24:45.5; Arianna Thompson-Bueno, So., 30th, 24:46.1; Susan Findlay, So., 31st, 24:46.4; Charlotte McClelland, Sr., 32nd, 24:57.0; Ashley Stelnik, Jr., 33rd, 25:01.1; Adelaide Luna, So., 35th, 25:13.7; Grace Teevan, Sr., 42nd, 27:19.6; Zoe Lopez, So., 50th, 29:27.1.

Varsity Division I & II 5K

Tatum Goforth, Sr., 6th, 19:57.9; Hannah Wheeling, Sr., 8th, 20:06.7; Catherine Alaimo, Sr., 10th, 20:18.2; Reese Brown, Jr., 14th, 20:43.0; Macarthy Mahoney, Sr., 17th, 20:48.2; Karime Morales, Sr., 21st, 21:08.4; Naomi Young, Jr., 48th, 23:12.6.

Gators bring their volleyball to a full boil

 It was like eagerly putting your favorite pasta to boil in a big pot and . . .

Wait for it.

Wait for it.

Goodness, will it ever get done?

Not as quickly as you want.

In the opening game of their non-region volleyball match against visiting Peoria Liberty on Thursday night (Oct. 7), Xavier Prep’s Gators had to wait to bring their game to a boil. You know what they say about watched pots.

Xavier trailed 18-17 and couldn’t seem to get much consistency against the Lions. But things began to boil for the Gators and they scored the final eight points of the game for a 25-18 victory.

The momentum carried over to the next two games, Xavier winning both by identical 25-22 scores to sweep the match 3-0. It was the second sweep in as many nights for XCP, which defeated Phoenix Sunnyslope on Wednesday night (Oct. 6).

Xavier raised its overall record to 19-7 while rising from seventh place to fifth in Friday’s (Oct. 8) Arizona Interscholastic Association rankings, swapping places with Liberty (12-7) which dropped from fifth to seventh.

“This was a big match for us,’’ said Xavier Coach Lamar-Renee Bryant. “They were ahead of us in power points and we had to get some more because we still have some tough region matches (6A Premier) coming up.’’

The teams played back and forth in the second game. A kill shot by Liberty gave the Lions a 22-21 lead, but Xavier came back with four straight points to seal it, including a kill by senior outside hitter Emma Soderstrom, a service ace by senior setter Alexa Shiner, a key point off another serve by Shiner, then a blocked shot.

Xavier led by nine points early in the third game, but Liberty, looking more athletic than Sunnyslope, got as close as 24-22 after a Xavier block went out of bounds, but a kill by Soderstrom put the match away.

The Gators have two more matches on back-to-back nights next week – on Wednesday (Oct. 13) at Chandler Basha and Thursday (Oct. 14) at home against Chandler High.




Badminton closer than the score indicated

 The 8-1 badminton victory by host Peoria Liberty over Xavier Prep on Thursday did not indicate how close this one came from going the other way in Xavier’s favor.

Three singles matches and one doubles match went the full three games, with Xavier winning one.

Xavier slipped below the .500 mark overall at 7-8-1, while Liberty reached .500 at 5-5. Xavier was ranked No. 13 by the Arizona Interscholastic power points listing, and Liberty was 15th.

Highlight of the day was the 2-1 victory by junior Gigi Riviere in the No. 2 singles spot against Liberty’s Riley Jones. Riviere fell in the first game, 21-16, but rallied for 21-17 and 21-17 wins.

Xavier has three matches on back-to-back-to back days to wrap up the regular season.

They are Tuesday (Oct. 12) at home against Tempe Corona del Sol, Wednesday (Oct. 13) at home against Chandler Basha and Thursday (Oct. 14) at Chandler High.

Thursday’s result

Liberty 8, Xavier Prep 1


Hannah Kubala, L, def. Jasmine Leyva, X, 21-17, 21-9; Gigi Riviere, X, def. Riley Jones, L, 16-21, 21-17, 21-17; Jaylana Dominguez, L, def. Sophia Bonilla, X, 17-21, 21-17, 22-20; Hailey Connor, L, def. Riley Dowdall, X, 21-16, 21-15; Deeksha Aithal, L, def. Lexi Garman, X, 21-11, 23-21; Amber Dauer, L, def. Caroline Cobb, X, 17-21, 21-15, 21-11.


Connor-Aithal, L, def. Leyva-Riviere, X, 21-19, 21-16; Kubala-Jones, L, def. Dowdall-Bonilla, X, 18-21, 21-14, 21-16; Kennedy Williams-Dominguez, L, def. Garman-Cobb, X, 21-12, 21-16.

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Under-par finish adds to XCP golf luster

 It was a great way for Xavier Prep’s golf team to finish the regular season and begin to focus on defending their Division I state championship on Nov. 1-2. The Gators have won 37 state championships.

By defeating Cave Creek Cactus Shadows and Glendale Mountain Ridge in a three-way match at the Palm Valley Country Club in Goodyear on Wednesday (Oct. 6), Xavier finished 10-0 in dual/three-way competition (not counting invitationals).

And the Gators did it in impressive fashion. Three of their top four golfers finished under par (par 35), to give the team a four-under 136. Cactus Shadows finished with a 6-over 146 and Mountain Ridge was at 31-over 171.

The top three golfers for Xavier were sophomore Kate Hauptman (3-under 32), junior Annie Dawson (2-under 33) and sophomore Jayden Jevnick (1-under 34). The fourth player contributing to the team score was sophomore Lena Durette (2-over 37).

Other Xavier scores were sophomore Kalyn Doss (2-over 37), sophomore Grace Rubelsky (3-over 38), senior Ivy Song (3-over 38) and sophomore Kyla Layman (4-over 39).

The golf team will now take a break of sorts, working on individual aspects of their game, and will play in a state preview event on Oct. 18 at the Aguila Golf Course in Laveen.

From there, it will be on to the Tucson National Golf Club for the state tournament on the facility’s Sonoran Course.

Sweep allows Gator v-ball to climb in rankings

 After playing seven matches in two days at the Nike Tournament of Champions over the weekend, Xavier Prep’s volleyball team did not have much time to rest up before its next match against visiting Phoenix Sunnyslope on Wednesday night (Oct. 6).

But the Gators seemed to return with renewed energy, sweeping the Vikings 3-0 in a hard-fought match at the Activity Center.

Scores were 25-19, 26-24 and 25-19.

Xavier (18-7) was due to face Peoria Liberty on Thursday (Oct. 7) in the second match in as many nights at the Activity Center.

Peoria is No. 5 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association rankings, Xavier is No. 7 and Sunnyslope is No. 11.

Senior outside hitter Emma Soderstrom and junior outside hitter Ava Larkin were the key factors for Xavier. Soderstrom (18) and Larkin (12) combined for 30 of the team’s 40 kills. They also combined for 21 digs.

The Gators were tough on defense, with 69 digs. Freshman libero Olivia Lenz had 21 digs and senior libero Hannah Ulisch had 11 digs. Junior middle blocker Emma Caruso led the team with 3 blocks. And senior setter Alexa Shiner had 35 of the team’s 40 assists.

In the first game, Xavier had a 14-4 lead when Sunnyslope (19-11) called its second timeout of the contest. The Vikings calmed down and went on a 7-0 run to get back into it. Xavier, however, was able to maintain control after that to secure the win.

Neither team could pull away in Game 2, exchanging leads. Sunnyslope appeared to have the upper hand with a 23-21 lead, but Xavier got a kill from Soderstrom and a service ace from Shiner to pull even.

Sunnyslope inched back in front and had the victory at its fingertips. Xavier did not give up, however, and came back with three straight points to decide the game.

The first part of Game 3, then Xavier managed to separate a bit with a 20-13 lead. Sunnyslope pulled closer at 22-19, and that was it as the Gators scored the final three points in a row.