Two weeks ago Xavier's volleyball team felt the sting of a 3-0 sweep at the hands of Desert Vista. That brought about plenty of refocusing and that resolve is paying off.
The Gators unleashed an unrelenting attackTuesday night on Gilbert and dealt the Lady Tigers one of their worst losses, 25-12, 25-12 and 25-17 at Xavier's Activity Center.
“We haven't been beaten like that in a quite a while,” longtime Gilbert coach Joe Hesse said. “We didn't play very well, but they had a lot to do with that. They played fast and smooth.”
Xavier (11-3 overall, 6-1 power-point matches), which posted a 5-2 record against quality competition from around the country last weekend at the Durango Classic in Las Vegas, performed at its Durango level. The Gators were led by sophomore kill-machine Khalia Lanier. Lanier staggered Gilbert with 19 kills (15 in the first two sets). Lanier crushed some, tipped a few others and placed a handful more. Lanier's hitting percentage for the match was .593.
“She is one of the best players in the country,” Hesse said. “She was fun to watch.”
Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant said the 3-0 sweep Xavier suffered on the Gators' home floor to Desert Vista has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“We don't get beat at home often and not swept,” Bryant said. “We had some rededication after that match. Our practices have become more intense and we're more focused.”
Xavier finished 13th at Durango and could have finished in the top eight. One of its two lossess prevented that. It came Torrey Pines — the team that won the tournament.
Bryant said the biggest difference in play other than focus has been improvement in the serve and pass game. The Gators weren't a one person wrecking crew Tuesday, Senior outside hitter Mia Teilborg contributed nine killsBryant cited middle Abby Smith (five kills, .571 percentage) for taking advantage of the focus on Lanier. Xavier hit .356 as a team.
“Abby lit it up tonight when she got one-one-opportunities,” Bryant said.
Gilbert, which won the House of Payner Tournament at Chandler and reached the semifinals last weekend at the Westwood Tournament of Champions, is now 20-4 overall and 6-3 in power-ranking matches. The three losses are to Hamilton, Horizon and Xavier. Gilbert played Tuesday without its top returning all-around player from last season — sophomore Makenna Martin. Martin suffered a quad injury at Westwood and is out indefiinitely. Her absence didn't help Gilbert, but the way Xavier played it may not have mattered.
“Those are teams we have to beat sooner or later,” Hesse said. “I think we can still make a run. We're playing a bit scared right now.”