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Maxwell learns about rivalry, helps Mustangs hand Panthers first league loss

Tanner Maxwell doesn’t have a whole lot of experience with Shadow Ridge’s boys volleyball rivalry with Palo Verde.

But the senior outside hitter added his own chapter to it Thursday night.

Maxwell had 34 kills, 20 digs and two blocks as the Mustangs held on for a 25-14, 16-25, 25-22, 23-25, 15-13 win at Palo Verde to hand the Panthers their first Northwest League loss.

“It was all the quick sets that we run,” said Maxwell, who transferred from Cimarron-Memorial. “Tonight, I was feeling it. I wanted to do well for my team.

“It’s my first win over Palo Verde, ever. It’s kind of a big deal for me. I feel good.”

Maxwell scored four of the first five points for the Mustangs (9-0, 5-0 Northwest) in the fifth set, and the visiting team jumped out to a 7-4 lead.

“Tanner is clutch. He’s a really good, young player,” Shadow Ridge coach Trace Venable said. “He’s still learning and developing as a player, but he has what’s needed to lead us through these games. He adds that extra piece that really ties this team together down the stretch.”

The Panthers (4-2, 4-1) roared back in the fifth to take a 9-8 lead on Vince Hipwell’s kill, and the final set featured five ties and two lead changes.

Consecutive kills by Brandon Fisher put the Mustangs back in control, and back-to-back blocks by Robert Whitaker and Sterling Weaver set up Maxwell’s match-winning kill.

“This is a great experience for (Maxwell),” Venable said. “It shows that he’s a great team player, that he can manage the team well, and guys can look to him for big, clutch points. And I think he looks at other players for clutch plays, as well. They’re all working together, learning to play together and we’re continuing to develop as a team.”

Jalen Makaiwi had 32 assists and 12 digs, and Fisher finished with 11 kills for Shadow Ridge.

Braden Taylor added 19 assists and five kills for the Mustangs.

“I owe it to the team,” Maxwell said. “Our defense was really good today. We’re just working together really well as a team.”

Trent Gneiting had 24 kills for Palo Verde, which rallied after the first-set loss with a 7-0 run to go up 16-10 and roll to victory in the second set.

Sophomore setter Andrew Weston supplied 39 assists and five kills for the Panthers, who got 11 kills from Jordyn Martin and six kills and four blocks from Mitchell Tingey.

“We knew a win today would definitely set the tone for the rest of the season,” Maxwell said. “Everyone knows now that we mean business, and we’re ready to play.”

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