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.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Gators' Bryant selected volleyball Coach of the Year

Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest, but Xavier Prep volleyball coach Lamar-Renee Bryant’s quiet time was being interrupted by phone call after phone call.

And for good reason. Bryant was being congratulated for the announcement by the news outlet that she had been named Coach of the Year. The selection was made by azcentral staffers after analyzing the matches they had seen and from comments by other coaches.

Bryant led Xavier to a 40-3 record and the 6A Conference state championship with a four-set win over Tempe Corona del Sol, which won the 2016 title.

Xavier also received two other honors as a result – senior outside hitter Lanie Wagner was named All-Arizona and is a nominee for Player of the Year; and junior setter Shannon Shields was named Honorable Mention.

Players of the Year will be announced at a live program in June.

“It was a really good year for us,’’ Bryant said. “This honor means a lot, but it was the state championship that means the most.

“At the beginning of the year, I don’t know if people considered us to be among the top teams, but as a result of the girls’ work ethic, we were able to play very well. We always talked about being the best version of yourself. As long as we were moving in the right direction, everybody was able to buy into that. And we had a lot of good leadership from our seniors.’’

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