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Xavier makes coach Bryant's varsity V-ball debut a success

It was easy as 1-2-3.

OK, not really.

But Phoenix Xavier Prep can use Tuesday night’s (Sept. 3) three-game volleyball sweep of host Peoria Centennial as a starting point.

The Gators wanted to make the varsity coaching debut of Lamar-Renee Bryant a success. Bryant, the school’s junior-varsity coach for the last eight seasons, replaced long-time coach Tim McHale, who resigned after the team’s Division I state tournament runner-up finish to spend more time with his family.

Xavier won the match by scores of 25-22, 25-21 and 25-17.

There were times when it appeared the Gators would pull away, and other times when pesky Centennial would come back and make things competitive.

“It’s always good to get the first one under your belt. Centennial is a great team, and we were fortunate to come out and win it in three (straight),’’ Bryant said.

Asked what stood out to her in this opener, she said, “Service and passing. It was phenomenal.’’

The transition from McHale to Bryant probably wasn’t as difficult as it would have been had Bryant not worked with most of the players at the JV level and coached some of them in club ball.

One of the players is senior tri-captain Mia Teilborg, an outside hitter.

She said practices thus far have focused a bit more on fundamentals.

“That’s OK, because you need to do that, particularly at this time of year,’’ Teilborg said. “We just want to make sure we do it right, take it slow.

“We may not be as big as some teams, but we know each other very well. Sometimes you can be successful if you are smart, not necessarily strong.

“Centennial is a good team. They gave everything they had. It wasn’t easy for us.’’

Teilborg was involved in her share of the action, and the other two captains, senior outside hitter Dani Westfall and sophomore outside hitter Khalia Lanier, had their moments.

The 6-foot-2 Lanier, in particular, showed signs of becoming a dominant force. She seems to have more of a court sense than she did as a freshman and now has some touch on her shots in addition to the pure power. When she winds up and lets it fly, you don’t want to stand in front of it -- just like a Randy Johnson fastball.

Centennial should get better as well. The Coyotes are led by 6-1 senior Maddie Mertz, but have other components for success.

 

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