High school volleyball: Xavier Prep wins latest rivalry bout with Corona del Sol

Friday, 06 October 2017, 06:47:00 AM. Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant graduated from Corona del Sol. Now, she's coaching the other side in the state's top volleyball rivalry.

Before she was the volleyball coach at Phoenix Xavier Prep, Lamar-Renee Bryant graduated high school from Corona del Sol in Tempe. Now, she’s along for the ride as her team jockeys with the Aztecs in the state’s most heated volleyball rivalry.

Last season, it was Corona del Sol who prevailed in the 6A state semifinals with a 3-2 victory in their eventual state championship season. But Xavier is another year older — and with senior Alana Draper, juniors Shannon Shields and Lanie Wagner, as well as sophomore Brianna McKnight — the Gators have other ideas in 2017.

Both Xavier (10-0) and Corona del Sol (11-0) were part of the Nike Tournament of Champions Invitational on Sept. 30 in Phoenix. The tournament brought some of Arizona’s top programs against some premier teams from California.

In the platinum bracket, Xavier and Corona del Sol were the lone remaining Arizona teams as play moved to the semifinals — and, as fate would have it, the rivals were matched up.

“It’s always a close match (with Corona), always down to the wire,” Bryant said. “We always know they’re going to be strong and play hard right until the end.”

But this time the Gators bested the Aztecs in three sets, snapping Corona’s 37-match win streak dating back to last October — although the game is not officially counted toward their AIA season records. McKnight had 17 kills and Wagner added another 10. Shields (31 assists) and Draper (21) also helped pace the Gators. Corona standout Brooke Nuneviller had 12 kills for the Aztecs.

“At this point, we’re used to going head-to-head with them,” Bryant said. “They’re a strong team, well-coached and it’s a great boost to come out with the win.”

Although Xavier eventually lost in the Platinum finals to Mater Dei in Santa Ana, Calif., Bryant considered the tournament a huge moment in her team’s season. The Gators knocked off Santa Margarita (Calif.) to finish third. Corona knocked off Goodyear Millennium to finish fifth.

“It was definitely a confidence booster,” she said. “With (Corona) being so good and our only in-state opponent, and the out-of-state competition really helps you grow.”

With seven regular season games remaining, as well as the Gilbert Invitational on Oct. 6-7, Bryant has her eye on her high school alma mater Corona, Millennium and Gilbert Perry as the top contenders in 6A as the season nears the home stretch of October.

Around the state

  • In 5A, Phoenix Sunnyslope and Peoria Centennial are the lone remaining one-loss teams in the division … However, 8-2 Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep — whose both losses came to Sunnyslope and defending champion Centennial — is lurking in the rearview mirror … Sunnyslope will get a chance to shine in the Gilbert Invitational on Oct. 7 against 6A powers Xavier, Phoenix Mountain Pointe, Chandler Hamilton, Chandler Basha, Gilbert and Gilbert Highland
  • Cave Creek Cactus Shadows is the lone remaining undefeated team in 4A with a 10-0 record, but defending champion Tucson Salpointe Catholic is lurking at 10-1 with an eye at a repeat campaign … Glendale Cactus is also 10-1 after a 2016 season that saw them eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.
  • In 3A, Snowflake (8-0), Phoenix Northwest Christian (9-0) and Kayenta Monument Valley (9-0) are all still undefeated … Defending champion Fountain Hills is 8-2.
  • Glendale Prep (11-0) leads the 2A division in wins after being eliminated in the quarterfinals in 2016 … Scottsdale Christian, which lost in last year’s semifinals, is also undefeated at 10-0 … Defending champion Phoenix Horizon Honors is 7-3.
  • In 1A, Heber Mogollon (10-0) has eyes on avenging a championship loss to St. David, who is off to a 9-3 start … Rock Point (9-0) and Phoenix Valley Lutheran (9-1) are also poised for playoff runs.

*All records listed reflect those entering play on Monday, Oct. 3

Richard Morin can be reached by email at rmorin@arizonarepublic.com and by phone at 480-316-2493. Watch the "Cover 2" high school football show with Morin and Obert on the azcentral sports Facebook page and at highschools.azcentral.com. Follow him on Twitter @BigRickMorin.

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Article High school volleyball: Xavier Prep wins latest rivalry bout with Corona del Sol compiled by www.azcentral.com