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Doing what is needed

Flagstaff freshman earned spot on varsity

TEMPE, Ariz.

Navajo Times | Donovan Quintero

Flagstaff freshman Gracelyn Nez gets ready to pass the ball on Saturday against top-seed Phoenix Greenway. Nez was recently named Grand Canyon Region Player of the Year.

Behind a bevy of seniors, Flagstaff freshman Gracelyn Nez did not expect to make an impact on the volleyball team this past year.

Nez thought she would be benched from the get-go since she was new to the program.

“I thought I would have to sit out a couple of games so that I can see how the game was being played,” she said. “I thought I had to see how the players played so I didn’t expect to be starting so soon.”

But based on her skills set, Nez put up some monster stats this season. In 40 games, she led the team in kills by registering 394 kills on 947 attempts for a hitting percentage of .245. At the service line, she put across 133 points that included 29 service aces.

At the net she also registered 28 blocks, including three solos and defensively she added 189 digs in 106 sets played.

Flagstaff coach Beth Haglin said the skill and talent Nez possesses are quite remarkable for a freshman player.

“Isn’t she amazing?” Haglin asked. “Gracelyn is a gift from God. She’s an amazing player and of course she is going to have a great career in volleyball.”

With the numbers she put up, Nez was recently named player of the year in the Grand Canyon Region.

In addition to that recognition, she made the all-tournament team at the Coconino Classic earlier this season.

Nez said she has been around the game for most of her life by tagging along with her parents, Farin and Lexine Nez.

“My mom and dad took me to open gyms and tournaments,” she said. “From there I caught on.”

With her pupil knowing the game, the longtime Flagstaff coach said it didn’t take long for her to put Nez in the starting lineup.

“She does what is needed,” said Haglin, who noted that having Nez gives them options in running their offense.

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About The Author

Quentin Jodie

Quentin Jodie is the Sports Editor for the Navajo Times. He started working for the Navajo Times in February 2010 and was promoted to the Sports Editor position at the end of summer in 2012. Previously, he wrote for the Gallup Independent. Reach him at