Mustangs take final step

Shadow Ridge hurdled a final obstacle and won the Class 4A boys state volleyball championship over Centennial 25-18, 20-25, 25-20, 26-24 at Silverado on Wednesday.

Trailing 23-21 in the final game, the Mustangs reeled off five of the match’s final six points and secured the 4-year-old school’s first state championship in any sport.

Elvin Bower’s block started the comeback and helped give Shadow Ridge its fourth win in six tries against the Bulldogs.

The Mustangs (22-3) had lost two straight against Centennial (34-5). Last year, Shadow Ridge’s season ended against Bonanza in the Sunset Regional. The Bengals won that five-game match when a referee’s call ended a 16-14 fifth game.

“Last year, it came to a bitter end,” Shadow Ridge coach Christian Augustin said. “It was a ref’s call, and I’m sure it was a correct call. But our guys never forgot that match.

“That match lit a fire under us all year this year waiting for that game (the regular-season opener against Bonanza) to start. That was our first game this year, on purpose. And we had to eliminate them in that second-round (Sunset Regional) game. Those were mental hurdles we had to get through.”

Shadow Ridge captain Josh Shea, who had 56 assists and 12 digs in the state championship match, finished four years on the varsity along with four teammates who were key contributors against the Bulldogs.

Brian Wendt had 10 digs, co-captain Elvin Bower logged 10 kills and four blocks, Mike Hansen posted 11 kills and Mark Schuermann, who was on the junior varsity team as a freshman, compiled 17 kills and 10 digs for Shadow Ridge.

Zach Hexamer was another key performer for the Mustangs with 14 kills.

“Zach Hexamer came up so big tonight,” Shea said. “He was my go-to guy.”

The win avenged the Bulldogs’ four-game victory in last week’s Sunset Regional championship game.

“Our goal was not letting them beat us three times in a row,” Shea said. “Our first year, we had a plan that we wanted to compete for a state championship and a regional championship. We did both, and we came away with winning the one that counted more.

“We always said we wanted to be the first team at Shadow Ridge to do it, and we did.”

Mike Tagliaferri had 50 assists, Jordan Leach 19 kills and six blocks and Chandler Tidwell 18 kills and 11 digs for Centennial.

“There was not other team that I wanted to play tonight besides Centennial,” Augustin said. “The amount of respect I have for their players, coaches and parents is tremendous.”

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