Balboa High School finally put an end to its dreaded championship drought on Thursday night, and they did it against the Academic Athletic Association’s best team.
With a 25-23, 25-16, 15-25, 25-15 win over Lowell at Kezar Pavilion, the Buccaneers clinched their first AAA girls’ volleyball title in school history and ended what was an undefeated league season for the Cardinals.
Balboa has made the playoffs every year since 2004 and has reached the championship game in three of the past four years.
“I can’t even state it in words, it’s just huge,” Balboa coach Val Cubales said. “This sport has been dominated for so long by Lowell and Lincoln, but these girls have worked so hard to get here.”
The Bucs (19-11) were led by a match-high 15 kills, including five in the final game, from junior outside hitter Cynthia Ngan, but four other hitters also tallied five kills or more.
“It feels so great. We made history,” Ngan said. “We just wanted to beat them and give it to them. I don’t even have the words. We just got it this year.”
Balboa controlled the deciding fourth game, but it was a seesaw first game that put the Bucs up early. The opening game featured 18 ties, eight lead changes, and no team led by more than two points. Tied at 23-23, Ngan put down a kill to give the Bucs an edge, then a block from junior middle blocker Kayla Toatelegese put the game away.
“That was a big game, and that was a game we really wanted,” Cubales said. “It really set the tone for the rest of the match.”
Lowell (29-8) dominated the AAA all season and brought a 13-0 league record into the championship game, but never seemed to get in sync offensively, other than a standout third game.
“We just played tentative,” Lowell coach Steven Wesley said. “I don’t think it had to do with relaxing or being anxious, we were just over-thinking everything and tried to be perfect.”
CARLMONT 3, NORTH SALINAS 0
Third-seeded Carlmont struggled early, but defeated North Salinas 25-23, 25-13, 25-15 to advance to the semifiinals of the Central Coast Section Division I volleyball playoffs for the second straight year.
“I thought we really turned up our defense,” Carlmont coach Chris Crader said. “Even though we were making errors, we were digging so many balls it was hard for them to generate points on their side of the net.”
The Scots committed 19 errors in the first set, but started to turn it around as senior outside hitter Shelby Vance found her rhythm. Vance came up just short of a triple-double, finishing with 15 kills, 10 digs and six aces.
Zack Farmer contributed to this report.
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