After his team dropped the first set Wednesday, Centennial boys volleyball coach Erik Davis switched to a longer lineup.
And turned around the match.
Justin Madsen’s kill put the finishing touches on the host Bulldogs’ 20-25, 25-16, 25-17, 22-25, 15-13 win over Arbor View in a showdown that had the atmosphere of a state final.
“Arbor View put a lot of pressure on us in that first set,” Davis said. “They came out really confident and swinging really hard, and the environment had us a little shellshocked.
“In the second and third sets, we made a lineup change and that helped our guys settle down and put our guys in a better position to be successful. Some of our players weren’t performing the way they normally do, and when we switched things around it helped our guys play to their strengths. We had Nahmani Brown running around allowing him to be a more effective striker at all six locations.”
Brown, a 6-foot, 7-inch senior, took advantage of that switch with a game-high 31 kills and had four blocks and four digs.
It was Brown’s dominant presence that sparked the Bulldogs (21-3, 8-0 Mountain League) in the second and third sets.
Every time the Aggies appeared to gain momentum, Brown delivered a kill shot to put the Bulldogs back in control.
“Nahmani was pretty tough to stop,” Davis said. “He had a really high attack percentage, and I don’t think he made any mistakes out there. He’s a tough one to stop.”
The Aggies (26-5, 5-2) didn’t go down easily, reeling off five straight points to take an 18-13 lead in the fourth set. Gideon Belnap, who finished with 19 kills and three blocks, dominated at the net during that stretch.
“I’m super proud of my guys,” Arbor View coach Michael Clarke said. “This is the second game in a row where we’ve had a playoff atmosphere. After that third set, the previous team probably would have folded, and our guys found a way to fight back and just make it a game.”
Brown gave the Bulldogs a 13-11 fifth-set lead with a block.
Madsen finished with 12 kills, and Mark Frazier had eight kills, three blocks and two aces. Andrew Shiheiber dished out 52 assists for the Bulldogs.
Jaylen Harris had 16 kills and three blocks, and teammate Max Senior had 46 assists for the Aggies.