Khalia Lanier has what it takes to be a great volleyball player.
Just ask her coach, Lamar Bryant.
“She has the skill set and a very high volleyball IQ,” Bryant said of the athletic, 6-foot-2 Lanier.
Couple that with increased confidence and you have a dominating hitter as a sophomore who helped lead Xavier to a state championship and earn Tribune Player of the Year honors.
Much like her performance in the final match, Lanier started the season slow but gained confidence through the year, leading to an amazing effort in the state playoffs, especially the finals, her “coming out party,” in Bryant’s words.
After going down two games to one in the state championship match, Xavier sent it to a deciding fifth game and Lanier took over. She had eight kills in the final set alone as the Gators beat Hamilton 15-8 to take its first title since 2010.
Lanier admitted after the final match that she was a bit tentative early, tipping and not swinging free. Even Hamilton coach Sharon Vanis said it was just a matter of time before Lanier could take over.
And the sky’s the limit, Bryant said. Lanier’s goals include playing at the Division I level.
“She’s very cerebral,” Bryant said. “She has a 4.0 GPA, watches film of opponents and herself. She could go a long way.”
She already has a target on her back after her performance thus far and that won’t go away soon.
“My coaches have prepared me for that in game point situations, I should be ready to terminate the ball,” she said.
All-Tribune First Team
Name School Yr. Pos. Comment
Khalia Lanier Xavier So. OH Tribune POY averaged more than 5 kills per set for state champs
Tess Clark Horizon Sr. MB Had nearly 100 blocks and 350 kills for No. 1 seed
Kameryn Hill Gilbert So. L Had more than 700 digs
Jasmine Hanna Queen Creek Sr. OH Led team to quarterfinals
Olivia Hallaran Hamilton So. OH Consistent hitter averaged nearly 3 kills per set
Jessi Lammers Campo Verde Sr. S Steady force for Division II runner-up
Player of the Year: Khalia Lanier, Xavier
Coach of the Year: Fred Mann, Perry: After years of success at Mountain Pointe, Mann took over a Perry program that had not seen many wins and set new marks for victories on the way to a state playoff berth.
All-Tribune Second Team
Name School Yr. Pos. Comment
Mia Teilborg Xavier Sr. OH Big numbers – 383 kills, 321 digs, 95 blocks
Sierra Nobley Horizon Sr. OH Smart hitter topped 1,000 kills in career
McKenna Woodford Hamilton Jr. OH Averaged nearly 3 kills per set for state runner-up
Lauren Conati Horizon Sr. S Nearly 1,000 assists and 192 digs
Misha McDowell Campo Verde Sr. MB Led the Coyotes in hitting
Lexi Glover Desert Vista Jr. L Set school records for digs
Basha: Justine Spann, Soph., OH; Alexa Johnson, Jr., MB; Lindsay Miller, Sr., OH; Chandler: Gionni Brown, Jr., L; Corona del Sol: Alyssa Meyer, Jr., L; Desert Vista: Vanessa Wesley, Sr., MB; Gilbert: Heather Ball, Sr., MB; Kaitlyn Lines, Fr., OH; Hamilton: Preslie Anderson, Fr., MB/OH; Sydney Lostumo, Fr., S; Horizon: Jordan Anderson, Jr., L; Horizon Honors: Blaykleigh Smyth, Sr., MB; Mesa: Paige Gardner, Sr., OH; Mesquite: Alicia Heilner, Jr., S; Jordan Schumacher, Fr., OH; Makena Smith, So., L; Mountain Pointe: Kendall Gray, Jr., MB/OH; Christine Winkelman, Sr., OH; Tempe Prep: Kaitlin Shroll, Sr., OH; Valley Christian: Ashley Harrison, Jr., OH; Kendra Lorbeck, Sr., S