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, October 9, 2015

Lanier returns, Gator volleyball wins 20th

Senior outside hitter Khalia Lanier was back in Xavier’s volleyball lineup, with a smile on her face and little or no aftereffects that caused her to miss about two weeks with a sprained ankle.
Lanier had the same smile, same agility and same power kill shots, playing the first two games out of three that afforded the Gators a three-game sweep against visiting Mesa Red Mountain on Thursday night (Oct. 8).
The win was Xavier’s 20th in 25 matches this season.
“She (Lanier) feels good. I think playing again was probably more a mental adjustment than physical,’’ said Xavier coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.
The Gators continued to play short-handed due to injuries of setter Callie Jones and sophomore outside hitter Lanie Wagner. And, just Xavier’s luck, junior middle blocker Makena Patterson’s illness kept her from playing against Red Mountain.
Just as she had in previous matches without Lanier, Bryant juggled the lineup and XCP was able to demonstrate its depth, including a handful of call-ups from the junior varsity.
“All of the younger girls contributed,’’ Bryant said.
Sophomore middle blocker Alex Diaz-Infante had a strong night at the net, contributing several kills and blocks. Senior libero Kristen Largay, who thus far has been the team’s most reliable player, kept Xavier on target with her serves and defense, particularly on the back row.
Freshman Shannon Shields set Lanier and her teammates up with accurate passes that led to points.
The Gators will be back in action next week with a match at Peoria Centennial on Wednesday (Oct. 14) and two days of play in the Gilbert Tournament at Gilbert High on Oct. 16 and 17.

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