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.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Volleyball wins, moves on to state tourney

 Xavier Prep’s Gators did what they needed to do and took care of business on Monday (Oct. 31), sweeping Glendale Mountain Ridge 3-0 in a 6A Conference “play-in’’ game at the Activity Center.

Xavier (20-12) was the highest-rated play-in team at No. 9, while Mountain Ridge (10-21) was the lowest at No. 24.

Xavier moves on to the first round of the state tournament that begins on Thursday (Nov. 3), and the opponent is expected to be Queen Creek, which had been the No. 8 team in the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s power points rankings. First-round pairings will be announced on Wednesday (Nov. 2).

Queen Creek (21-13-1) and Xavier had been battling down to the wire over the last few weeks to determine which might wind up being the eighth seed and which might be the ninth.

Thursday night’s winner is expected to go on and face top-rated Tempe Corona del Sol (35-5) on Oct. 8 in a quarterfinal contest. Corona del Sol has defeated Queen Creek and Xavier.

Xavier has not played Queen Creek a whole lot over the years, but Gators Coach Lamar-Renee Bryant said most of what matches there have been have been very competitive.

“I’m happy for our seniors with the way they played today, in their final home match with Xavier,’’ she said. “It’s about how you handle these types of matches that keeps you going.’’

This play-in game originally was to have been played on Tuesday (Nov. 1), but festivities on campus for the 60th anniversary of Xavier President and former Principal Joan Fitzgerald at the school caused the schedule to be altered.

“I want to thank Mountain Ridge and the AIA to allow this to happen for us with such a meaningful moment for Sr. Joan,’’ said Bryant.

Xavier was strong at the net against Mountain Ridge.

The setters spread the wealth to the front-liners, giving them many opportunities to put the ball down into the Mountain Lions’ side of the court.

Junior Camilla Cornejo-Farmer and junior Finley Workman had seven kills apiece and sophomore Courtney Snopko had six.

Workman also had nine digs on defense, and sophomore libero Olivia Lenz had 11. Senior setter Ava Larkin had 23 assists.

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