Boys Volleyball: Lincoln storms back to beat Lowell in AAA semifinals

Lincoln senior outside hitter Johnson Li (left) sends a ball over a pair of Lowell blockers on Wednesday at Lowell High School. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Jeremy Balan

Two games into its Academic Athletic Association semifinal match against Lowell High School, Lincoln was in the worst possible position.

The Mustangs dropped the first two games and were plagued by frequent unforced errors, but after Lowell took the opening point in the third game, Lincoln responded.

Lowell outside hitter Lincoln Lam sends an attack over the net against Lincoln on Wednesday at Lowell High School. (Photo by Devin Chen)

After tying the game on the next point, the Mustangs did not allow the Cardinals to hold another lead in the match, storming back to win the final three games en route to a 21-25, 21-25, 25-19, 25-19, 16-14 win on Wednesday at Lowell High School.

“We’ve been doing it all year, making it harder on ourselves than it should be,” said Lincoln head coach Vince Tang. “It’s their championship to take. We have the most athletic guys in the league, but if they don’t play smart, any team can beat us.”

Riding the hot hands of senior outside hitters Johnson Li and Phillip Xie, the Mustangs opened up a 20-10 lead and cruised to a 25-19 win in the third game, and kept the momentum to take the fourth by the same score.

In the deciding fifth game, Li sustained the Mustangs with six kills, and after Lowell battled back from five match points to tie the game at 14-14, he sealed the match with a block.

“We just kept our composure and everything came through,” Li said. “Lowell is a great team, but if we’re going to go out, we’re going to go out hard. We gave it everything, because we were on our last life.”

Li and Xie combined for 22 kills in the final three games.

“Phillip and Johnson took it upon themselves to lead us to victory,” Tang said. “I told my setter [Aaron Tan], ‘You gotta go to your guns.’ I trust the decision he makes, but sometimes you have to go with what is working.”

Outside hitter Lincoln Lam, the only starting senior for the Cardinals, did his best to buoy the Lowell cause, collecting a team-high 18 kills, but it wasn’t enough.

“He wanted it pretty bad and suffered an injury about a week and a half ago,” said Lowell head coach Steven Wesley. “He did all the rehab necessary to get out there and he gave it his all. It’s all about the heart and he has it.”

The inexperienced Cardinals won’t repeat as AAA champions, but Wesley got all he could ask for.

“I expected [Lincoln] to come back. If they didn’t, I would have been surprised,” Wesley said. “It was just a matter of how much we wanted it, and at [14-9 in the fifth game], we came up with some huge plays and that shows all the heart we needed. There were some tears at the end, but they were more happy tears.”

Up next for the Mustangs is top-seeded Galileo in the AAA final on Friday. The Lions defeated Washington in the other semifinal on Wednesday and beat Lincoln in both meetings in the regular season.

“Right now, the records mean nothing,” Tang said. “Whatever happens, happens. The main thing is, if these guys can play with energy and not get so down on themselves, they can do it.”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The ref in this game were horrible! There was a net and over at last point but the ref didn’t call it. Ref effed the game up

    • Lowell says:

      uh no we lost because we werent good enough

    • Anonymous says:

      ehh well same thing…its actually fair though cuz last time lincoln played lowell at LOWELL that boy served it and got an ace and that could of been the game but then they called a replay. that was rigged too! so its even! and ref dont ruin the game its how the players play mostly!

      • Anonymous says:

        i agree with anonymous down there that if lowell was really the dominant team a couple bad calls from the ref shouldn’t cost them the game. but just so you know, the replay from the season game was not rigged because the down ref was talking to the coach and some of the players on the court which resulted in the ace.

  2. Anonymous says:

    OK BUDDY. If you say so. Refs dont dictate a game, if Lowell can win, it wouldn’t matter about one point.

    • Cardinals says:

      OKAY FRIEND. If you say so. well i guess we just had a bad day. But remember we still beat you during the season… and last year at your home… LOWELL 2010 CHAMPS!!!

      • Volleyball Fan says:

        First and foremost this site shouldn’t be for people to vent. I heard it was a great match and that both teams played hard. Cardinal fan…I assume you are a player on the team and you just made your team look bad by your comments. During season is during season. It’s champs now and a new year. AAA refs make bad calls left and right. It’s human error but I doubt that ref gave them those last 3 sets to beat you. Both teams did a great job this season. Let’s leave it at that.

        • Anonymous says:

          Just be aware that on this site, anyone can make up their own names, so you shouldn’t assume anyone is truly who they say they are.

  3. Brock L. says:

    Calm down its volleyball no one cares

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have a question tho. In volleyball, I’ve seen a lot of games where a team may be down 2 sets to none, but they can come back and win 3 sets in a row. How does this happen? It’s not easy to come back from being in the corner. Is it due to a sense of urgency and passion/desire to win, or is it more of a strategy of saving your energy towards the end of the game?

  5. Lincoln fan says:

    I think both teams played a great game that could have gone either way. Props to Johnson but why wasn’t Philip mentioned as much? I think they were the biggest contributors during the game but Philip was left out because he didnt get as many kills as Johnson? Philip was the one playing defense! We love Johnson but lets face it, the guy can’t play defense! Just a suggestion, talk about defense from the teams. Lowells libero definitely deserved some credit but got none in this article. He pretty much kept Lowell in the game. Main point, defense goes unnoticed because they do all the dirty work.

    • ..... says:

      i totally agree with the statement that you said. Defense doesn’t get noticed at all. No one really cares about getting a dig or getting a perfect pass. its always about the kill

  6. ..... says:

    giving* a perfect pass. my bad

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