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.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Soph Wagner, Lanier are strong v-ball combo

It certainly is no secret that Xavier Prep’s Khalia Lanier is one of the top high school volleyball players in the country. She has been selected as the No. 1 senior to watch in the nation by
But once she departs for USC, the Gators will need someone who is capable of stepping into Lanier’s role as the primary outside hitter.
Who could that be?
Meet Lanie Wagner, a 6-foot-1 sophomore who is on the verge of becoming a star in her own right.
Wagner got her feet wet and more of a sense of what the prep game is all about as a freshman last season, and on Thursday night (Sept. 3) got the breakthrough for which Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant had been hoping.
Wagner and the 6-2 Lanier formed a potent combination, dominating the net in XCP’s season-opening three-game sweep of Basha. The scores were 25-20, 25-13 and 25-16.
“Basha is a good team, but we had a specific game plan and we stuck to it,’’ Bryant said.
Xavier was somewhat familiar with Basha, since both participated in last week’s four-team scrimmage with Phoenix Sunnyslope and Chandler Hamilton at Hamilton.
“They (Basha) already had one match in (against Phoenix Pinnacle), and this was our first. There might have been (nervousness) for us in the first game, but we got into the flow in the second game and felt more comfortable.’’
The coach has been used to seeing Lanier rise above the net and put the hammer down for kill after kill, mixed in with a few blocks on the defensive side.
“Khalia was being Khalia out there, but Lanie played phenomenal. This was a breakout for her. We’re hoping for more good things from her.’’
Bryant also noted the play of senior libero Kristen Largay with her defense along the back line, sprawling on the floor with numerous digs, returning the ball up front where senior setter Callie Jones and the taller girls took care of the rest.
Xavier also plays its next match on the road, on Tuesday (Sept. 8) against Glendale Mountain Ridge. The Gators’ home opener is Sept. 10 against Phoenix Sandra Day O’Connor.

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