Before every serve, Shadow Ridge outside hitter Zach Hafen dribbles the ball between his legs, in homage to his four years on the Mustangs’ varsity basketball team.
In four years, Shadow Ridge’s basketball team never sniffed a state championship. But in volleyball, Hafen can add a ring to his senior year.
Hafen had 12 kills and 28 digs to help the Mustangs roar back from a two-game deficit to defeat Coronado 27-29, 23-25, 25-17, 25-17, 15-9 for the Class 4A boys volleyball state championship Wednesday at Palo Verde.
“I can’t even describe this. I never even thought I would be in a state championship,” an emotional Hafen said after rocketing down the match-winning point. “But it feels amazing, to come back from behind two games. Our team never stopped fighting. We just kept going. It was a great game.”
Taylor Lancaster had 15 kills for Shadow Ridge (20-2), and Jeremy Makaiwi logged 49 assists, helping lead the late charge.
“I do what I can, and the team can feed off me,” Makaiwi said. “It’s an unbelievable feeling right now. Four years of volleyball, three of varsity volleyball, and this is so worth it.”
Coronado’s Bryan Arana had eight of his game-high 20 kills in the first game, when the Cougars (20-2) rolled to a 4-1 start and then held off a late 8-2 run by Shadow Ridge.
Opposite hitter Chris Andrulis added 16 kills, four blocks and two aces for Coronado, which fended off Hafen’s eight-kill effort in the first two games.
“Coronado’s a really good team, and they deserved to be up 0-2,” said Shadow Ridge coach Christian Augustin, who also guided the Mustangs to the state title in 2007. “In those first two games, they were closing the game out and they were taking care of us.”
The Mustangs needed a spark and got it from Makaiwi.
“Down 2-0 is hard to come back, especially with a team like Coronado,” Makaiwi said. “They’re a great team.”
The senior setter fed the ball inside to middle blockers Joe Pearson and Thomas Rowan in the third game, and Shadow Ridge started rolling.
Pearson had three blocks and two kills in the third game as part of a five-kill, seven-block performance. Rowan in the middle compiled 12 kills and four blocks, including four kills in the decisive fifth game.
“In these types of games, you ask for somebody to step up,” Augustin said of Rowan. “And no matter who is winning, there is going to be a player who has to step up. Everybody will perform to their function, but there has to be a player who takes it to the next level. And he did that. We asked him to do that, and he did. If that didn’t work, I think Coronado had us.”