The Xavier Prep Gators proved why they are ranked number one in the state as they beat the Red Mountain Lions in straight sets in their second meeting of the season. The final scores were 25-9, 25-12, and 25-10.
The Gators had previously beaten the Lions earlier this season winning 2 sets to zero in a neutral tournament. The lions failed to score more than 10 points in either set in that first meeting which Lions coach Kristy Simmons said was their main goal for Tuesday.
“Us scoring 12 points and 10 points in the second and third sets shows progress to me which is what I really wanted to see tonight.”
The Lions were able to hang on a little longer in the third set compared to the first two as they were tied at 5s before the Gators went on a 7-0 run to swing the direction of the momentum their way for the remainder of the game.
Xavier’s Briana McKnight was the game leader in kills with 16 and also hitting 4.48 for the day. About her game McKnight said, “It feels amazing. It’s always fun to get a lot of kills but even more fun when you win the game as well.”
Coach Simmons praised McKnight’s performance and even adjusted their lineup to cater to her hitting. ““I had to put in my other middle, Mariah Smith, because she is my blocker and she goes in and gets two blocks which was great.”
Xavier’s Tiffany Tellez also stepped up this game with her consistent serving. Xavier’s Coach Lamar Bryant said, “She held her serve and not only did she hold her serve it was an aggressive serve and put us in important scoring opportunities.”
Bryant was happy with the team win, contributing the success to many different players including Katelen Tellez stating, “she stepped up on the outside playing 6 rotations for the first time all season and did fantastic.”
Coach Lamar is looking forward to the rest of success saying the team plans on focusing on their serving and passing to hopefully make it back to the state tournament again this year.
Red Mountain’s Coach Simmons said, “We started shutting down a little bit tonight. We started seeing some frustration which we addressed in our post game meeting. We just want to get back to basics and work together as a team.”
The Red Mountain Lions play again play again tomorrow night at 6 p.m. at Skyline High School.
The Xavier Gators play again Thursday night at 6 p.m. at Valley Vista.
Kaylee Connors is a sports journalism student at Arizona State's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism covering Red Mountain High School athletics.