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.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

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.

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