By Josh Levine
Despite losing the first two games in their match against Balboa High School, Lowell High School rallied back to win the last three games in their 3-2 victory (23-25, 23-25, 25-15, 25-6, 15-8) in the AAA semifinals on Wednesday at Lowell.
The top-seeded Cardinals (15-9, 10-0) had 41 kills in the five games, led by Spencer Wong who had 14 kills. Wong was followed closely by teammate Chen-Chen Huo who had 10 kills.
“Honestly, they came out and surprised us,” said Lowell Head Coach Steven Wesley. “All of their players came out firing and it caught us off guard. Usually they have two to three players who stand out, but in those first two games, everyone was firing at us.”
Balboa (4-7, 4-6), led by Jeff Ly and Nick Hom, with 17 and 10 kills respectively, took the opening two games, but could not keep the final three games close. The closest they got was when the third game was tied at nine, but the Cardinals finished out the game on a 16-6 run to seal the victory.
“I’m not sure what happened between games two and three,” said Balboa Head Coach Val Cubales. “I pulled everything out of my pocket to try and motivate them.”
Balboa had a little extra spark with the return of senior Ryan Donnelly, who has been ineligible most of the season. Donnelly came in midway through the first game and completed the rest of the games.
“The main reason Donnelly stayed in is because he is charismatic,” said Cubales. “He was a big boost. We found out today he could play and he did everything to motivate the team.”
With the win, Lowell advances to the finals, where they await the winner of Lincoln and Galileo.
“Whichever team we face, I know they are going to come out firing just like [Balboa] did today,” said Wesley. “As a coach, I need to prepare the team for that. Both Lincoln and Galileo are scrappy teams, and they want to win badly.”