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No. 1 Phoenix Xavier College Prep volleyball proved why it’s ranked No. 9 in the nation by defeating defending champions Tempe Corona del Sol (No. 23 nationally) in the 6A Championship on Thursday at Gilbert Mesquite High School.

Senior outside hitter Lanie Wagner led the way for the Gators, finishing with 22 kills, 17 digs and a pair of blocks and aces.

“Theres nothing like this feeling in the world,” she said. “We haven’t won since 2013 so this was a big year for us, we just came out fighting.”

Xavier had to fight back from a first set loss. The Gators pulled ahead 19-14 thanks in large part to Briana McKnight, but Corona went on a run led by the serving of sophomore opposite hitter Madelyn Noble.


Lacie Wagner speaks after getting a team-high 22 kills in a win over defending champion Corona del Sol.

She put the ball in the middle of the Gators defense, forcing junior libero Ashley Yeung to dive and lose the ability to set up a pass. With Noble on the line, Corona rattled off four points in a row and cut the deficit to one.

Nuneviller took over, getting a pair of kills late to push Corona to a 25-23 win. She finished the match with 16 kills and 17 digs.

Set two was the opposite. Corona jumped to an early lead, maintaining a healthy four-point gap, but McKnight stepped forward. She got a block and then followed it with a kill coming off a diving, one-handed dig from Wagner. The Gators tied the score at 17.

The teams went back and forth until 18 got a kill to take a 23-22 lead. Wagner had been quiet throughout the middle of the set, but she became more aggressive late. She finished the set with eight kills, pushing Xavier to a 26-24 set two victory.

“You have to come out fighting every point so being aggressive was all we knew how to do this match,” Wagner said.

Wagnercontinued her hot play in the third set, compiling eight kills in a 25-17 win. In the end, though, senior middle blocker Ericka Snopko came through: she scored four of the team’s final six points, getting two kills and two blocks.

“Ericka’s a super underrated player, people don’t realize what she can do,” Wagner said, “so it’s really important for us to get her going.”

Xavier jumped to a 15-8 lead in the fourth set, but Corona came rumbling back behind tight defense that quieted Wagner. The Aztecs cut the deficit to three, but it wasn’t enough. Xavier finished on an 8-3 run to win 25-17.

It’s the volleyball team’s 12th championship and the school’s 131st state title overall. The team joined Xavier’s swimming and golf teams as 2017 champions.

“This is our 75th year. Our principal and our athletic director, this is their 50th year at Xavier, so it’s a big celebration all year long,” head coach Lamar-Renee Bryant said. “It’s a good year to be a Gator.”

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