With just one returning starter, Shadow Ridge boys volleyball coach Christian Augustin is still looking to see how his players respond under pressure.
Brandon Fisher made his coach proud Monday.
Fisher had 11 kills and two blocks to help Shadow Ridge to a 25-23, 25-23, 24-26, 25-19 win over Arbor View that gives the Mustangs the inside track on a top-three seed in the Northwest League for the Sunset Region playoffs.
“Brandon is an aggressive kid. He likes to go out there and just play fairly aggressive,” Augustin said. “We ask guys to step up in their roles, to do what their role says and play it well. But he did step up.”
Collin Johnson added eight kills, two blocks and two aces for the Mustangs (8-4, 6-2 Northwest), who used an early 6-0 run to hold off the Aggies (7-5, 4-4) in the first set.
Fisher started to take control in the second set, putting down three kills and a block. He then used several open looks near the net to log six kills and a block in the third set.
But Gennaddy Shataev came alive late, helping the Aggies tie the third set twice and then powering a thunderous kill that set up a 25-24 set point.
Shataev finished with a match-high 17 kills and three aces, but Shadow Ridge overwhelmed Arbor View in the fourth set. The Mustangs had five players score during a 7-2 run to take an 11-8 lead and cruised to the finish.
“It’s just a lesson for our guys to learn,” Augustin said. “At our level right now, we can’t allow other teams runs. Other teams feed off that, and they’ll capitalize on that.”
Braden Taylor dished out 18 assists for Shadow Ridge, which got 11 assists from Jalen Makaiwi and five kills from Quinn Skouson.
“Quinn Skousen really rose to the occasion,” Augustin said. “You don’t see it necessarily in the box, but those small things he did on the court held the middle. And then Brandon could have that kill. All those little, tiny things make a huge difference.”
Richie Garness had 32 assists for the Aggies, and teammate Dylan Mengert added six kills. Nicco Buffalino and Blake Claxton each supplied five kills for Arbor View.
“(The win) does make a difference,” Augustin said. “Any time you’re playing a playoff team, you have to understand that there are implications; you’re going to be pressed and pushed to another level. And either you respond, or you don’t. To play and defeat a playoff-caliber team is a valuable win.”