Bio

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 AIA365.com, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

There's no doubting Wagner's volleyball talent



Editor’s note: The XCP Files will have a second guest contributor for the fall semester and possibly beyond. She is Natalie Dove, a student at Arizona State University. These reports are part of her journalism school curriculum.

By Natalie Dove
The XCP Files
    After growing up watching her sister play volleyball, Lanie Wagner decided it was her turn to step onto the court.
    The junior at Xavier Prep is a six-rotation outside hitter and captain for the Gators’ varsity volleyball team under head coach Lamar-Renee Bryant.
     “She is all-around, six-rotation player offensively and defensively. She is a really strong asset and because she’s six-rotation, we rely on her heavily and she does a really good job,” Bryant said.
   Wagner has been on the varsity since her freshman year and has started all three years.
   During her sophomore year, she sustained a knee injury and could not play for half of that season.
    This season has been her best yet. Entering Tuesday’s (Sept. 27) home match against Chandler Basha, she already had recorded 179 kills and 167 digs, and the season is not even halfway over.
   Due to her six-rotation status, she is like a “Swiss army knife” kind of player, capable of excelling in any type of situation. She always has felt most comfortable in the outside position.
   “I’m the best at outside so I just wanted to do what I was best at rather than try to transfer it,” Wagner said.
    Ever since she was young, she knew she wanted to be good at volleyball. Having played soccer and participated in gymnastics, the Phoenix native knew volleyball was her top choice.
   Once Wagner began playing club ball, she realized her potential.
  “When I was 11, on a 12’s (age) team, we won Colorado Crossroads, our first out of state tournament. That’s when I realized, “Oh, this is pretty cool!’ ” Wagner said. “We were one of the best in the nation.”
    After continuing to pursue her volleyball career, Wagner found that she could be really successful at it. She has started the recruiting process and hopes to play for a NCAA Division I program.
   Wagner strives to better herself along with her teammates.
   “I just want to focus on being a good leader that my teammates look up to and that they can talk to me about anything and they just feel comfortable around me,” Wagner said.
    After coaching her for three seasons, Bryant has had the opportunity to watch Wagner grow as a person and an athlete.
    “As a person, she is a little more outspoken. She was a freshman on varsity with a lot of upperclassmen, so she kind of had to find her way,” Bryant said. “Now being a junior and a captain, she’s definitely become more of a leader. She feels comfortable in this gym and it’s been really exciting to see.”
    Bryant wants Wagner to play to the best of her ability throughout her volleyball career.
   “She is our six-rotation, outside, captain and we really need for her to perform at a high level for us to be successful,” Bryant said. “I hope she embraces that and continues doing a great job with what she’s done thus far in the season.
    “She’s probably one of our best servers and she’s probably our most lethal terminator on the outside.’’
    Wagner attributes her success to having great coaches over her career and she hopes to lead the Gators to a state championship this season and next.



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