By Jeremy Balan
Entering with an unblemished league record, Lowell High School had to win the last three games against Lincoln to clinch the AAA/CIF-San Francisco Section title 3-2 (24-26, 20-25, 25-14, 25-18, 15-12) on Friday at Lincoln High School.
“You can’t teach passion and drive. They just have it,” said Lowell Head Coach Steve Wesley.
Lowell senior outside hitter Spencer Wong, who had a match-high 19 kills, spiked home the final point in the decisive fifth game, on a picture-perfect set from fellow senior Joseph Lee.
Wong started the game at the middle blocker position, but Wesley moved him to the right in the final three games, which keyed the Lowell surge.
“I was really connecting on the right side,” Wong said. “This was an excellent way to end [my senior season]. I will always remember it.”
Lee, who was named AAA player of the year before the game, directed the Lowell attack with precision from the setter’s position, even when the Cardinals (16-7, 11-0) were down early.
“He’s like a coach on the floor,” Wesley said. “He runs these guys as hard as I do. He stayed consistent and level-headed and that’s what you need from a quarterback of a volleyball team.”
For Lee, the finale of his high school career could not have ended a better way.
“This was probably one of the best nights of my life. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys,” Lee said. “I would have been happy with just the championship, but the [player of the year] makes it so much sweeter.”
Lowell sophomore libero Jeffrey Wong also had a match-high 64 digs.
The Mustangs (9-10, 8-3) appeared to be in total control after winning the first two games, feeding off the energy of the home crowd, but could not hold off the top-seeded Cardinals.
“It’s really tough to lose after going up 2-0,” said Lincoln Head Coach Vince Tang. “All we had to do was win one game. Both teams showed great heart, but one team had to win. We gave it our best, but came up a little short.”
The Mustangs were led by senior outside hitter Dylan Wong, who had a team-high 16 kills.
“I’m very proud to see him play this well, because he’s waited three years to get to this point,” Tang said of Dylan. “[His first three years] he’s been ineligible and this year he finally got the grades. He’s one of the reasons why we made it this far.”
Lincoln Junior middle blocker Philip Xie was a force inside for the Mustangs, collecting 12 kills and numerous imposing blocks.
“Plain and simple, Philip is a monster,” Tang said. “He’s a little bit of a goofy guy, but he’s a monster in the middle.”
Slideshow photos by AJ Canaria.