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.

Friday, October 8, 2021

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.




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