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, November 3, 2021

Gators face region rival Basha in v-ball opener

 The stage has been set for the 2021 6A Conference volleyball state tournament, and Xavier Prep initially will see some familiar faces and have the potential to see more down the road.

The Gators, who finished with a 22-10 record during the regular season, are the No. 6 seed, according to state bracketing released by the Arizona Interscholastic Association on Wednesday (Nov. 3).

As one of the top eight teams, they earned a first-round home match on Thursday (Nov. 4) at 6:30 p.m. against Premier Region rival Chandler Basha, which is seeded No. 11 at 18-19. The two played twice during the regular season, and Xavier scored 3-0 sweeps on Sept. 21 and Oct. 13.

If Xavier survives the first one, a showdown looms in the quarterfinals on Tuesday (Nov. 9) against another Premier Region rival, Gilbert Perry. The third-seeded Pumas are the two-time defending state runners-up and are aiming for their first state crown. Perry (31-8) opens state play on Thursday night at home against No. 14 seed Queen Creek (21-15).

Perry took care of Xavier during the regular season with a 3-1 win over the Gators at XCP on Sept. 28 and a 3-0 triumph at home on Oct. 19.

Xavier is led by head coach Lamar-Renee Bryant, and her assistants are Anna Panagiotakopoulos and Jamie Itule.

The Xavier roster consists of junior setter Kristy Tom, senior outside hitter Tiffany Tellez, senior outside hitter Emma Soderstrom, freshman libero Olivia Lenz, junior outside hitter Kate Tax, senior middle blocker Isabella Sinacori, senior middle blocker Theresa Romero, junior outside hitter Ava Larkin, junior middle blocker Emma Caruso, senior libero Hannah Ulisch, freshman middle blocker Elle McCreery, sophomore outside hitter Finley Workman, senior setter Alexa Shiner, junior setter Maddie MacDonald and sophomore libero Mia Accomazzo.

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