DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Thursday, October 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.

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