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 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.

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