Boys Volleyball: Galileo claims first-ever AAA title with win over Lincoln

Galileo freshman outside hitter David Peng sends a ball past a Lincoln blocker in the AAA championship game on Friday at O'Connell High School. (Photo by Christian Chew)

By Jeremy Balan

After winning the first game against Lincoln High School in the Academic Athletic Association championship on Friday at O’Connell High School, Galileo Academy hit rock bottom.

The top-seeded Lions were dominated by Lincoln in the second game and allowed the Mustangs to even the match with a 25-12 win, but rallied back to win the final two games en route to a 25-21, 12-25, 25-23, 25-21 victory, clinching their first AAA championship in school history.

Lincoln senior outside hitter Philip Xie tips the ball past a Galileo blocker in the AAA championship on Friday at O'Connell High School. (Photo by Christian Chew)

“After the second game, I just told them, ‘You just need to relax. I don’t care if we win or lose, just play,'” said Galileo head coach Mark Huynh. “When they loosened up they started to enjoy the game more and it showed.”

Galileo (19-11) led most of the way in the third game, but got a lift from an unlikely source in the deciding fourth.

The roller-coaster fourth game saw 18 ties and nine lead changes, but the Lions pulled away late on the solid play of Felix Fauatea.

Fauatea, a 5-foot-7 senior who mostly plays as a back-row substitute, first knocked in an ace to give Galileo a 23-21 lead, then two points later connected on a back-row kill on the championship clinching point. It was Fauatea’s only kill of the match.

“I’m just blown away,” Fauatea said. “I never thought I would have had the game-winning kill in this game. I just remembered practice yesterday and all the reps we took, went up and put it down.”

Fauatea may have put the final point on the board, but it was the Peng brothers, Jacky (a junior) and David (a freshman), that sustained the Galileo offense throughout. The brothers finished tied for the team lead with 12 kills apiece and combined for 12 kills in the final two games.

“They are our hardest hitters and they showed it tonight,” Huynh said. “Lincoln is such a hard-hitting team and we wanted to at least try to match them.”

The Pengs got the win and the championship, but did not match the production of standout Lincoln senior outside hitters Johnson Li and Philip Xie.

Arguably the best two hitters in the AAA, Johnson finished with a match-high 26 kills and Xie added 16, but the Mustangs (9-5 in AAA play) fell for the second consecutive year in the AAA final.

“[Li] has been coming up big for us offensively,” said Lincoln head coach Vince Tang. “Johnson and Philip have been carrying us all year, because they’re veterans and they’ve been through this. It was a tough [result] again, but I’m still so proud of them.”

Galileo sophomore middle blocker Chris Lee sends a ball over the net against Lincoln in the AAA championship on Friday at O'Connell High School. (Photo by Christian Chew)

Li was downright unstoppable at times, especially in the second and third games where he tallied 16 kills, but as the match wore on, the Mustangs leaned heavily on the pair and went to them on nearly every attack.

“That third and fourth [game], we didn’t pass the ball well and that caused us to force the ball to Johnson and Philip, and [Galileo] knew it was going to them,” Tang said. “They were set up for it and we put ourselves in a bad position.”

The championship may be Galileo’s first, but with all six starters returning next season, they will be considerable favorites to repeat as champions next season.

“I’m sure [the target will be on our back next season],” Huynh said. “We’ve talked about it, and I think the boys like that. When there’s a challenge they play up to the challenge, but it will be interesting to see how they respond next year.”

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18 Comments

  1. GCJ01 says:

    Congrats Gal. They were definately the best team in the City this year, and it showed!

  2. Dex says:

    Chris Lee beasting on Volleyball? congrats guys!

  3. Cats pride says:

    “best team in the city this year”?? I wouldn’t go that far, especially since SI destroyed them when the played. 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-19).

    • GCJ01 says:

      I was referring to the AAA. This article is about the AAA, NOT the WCAL. SI probably does have a good volleyball program, but I don’t care enough about the WCAL to follow.

    • G says:

      I bet you Galileo will kill SI if they had a rematch!!

  4. NRLEE92 says:

    Cats Pride, this article is referring to public school. Not private. They are in two completely different legues. Even of Galileo did play against SI, it was a non-legue game and most likely a scrimmage arranged by the coaches.

  5. JJ says:

    It doesn’t say best “public” high school in the city, it only said best team in the CITY. SI probably does have the best volleyball team in the City as they just advanced to the Finals in CCS, and won the highly competitive WCAL volleyball championship.

  6. Anonymous says:

    yes i agree. gal is not the best team in the city! and who cares about different divisions. VOLLEYBALL IS VOLLEYBALL. it dont matter if you are top in one division cuz of course there are MANY other schools better! thats the truth.

  7. Anonymous says:

    instead of all these offensive comments, can we just allow galileo to have the spotlight for their win?

    • GCJ01 says:

      I agree. In a league that has always been dominated by Lowell and Lincoln, it’s nice to see Gal have a great year!

  8. Lion's Den says:

    ROAR ROAR ROAR!! Hear us Roar Haters! WAY to go Galileo! Congratulation Boys and Coach Mark. You don’t need anyone’s permission to Shine in the spotlight that you’ve earned! Thank you for achieving an historical event for GALILEO.

  9. Mrs. Barnes says:

    VBD VBD VBD VBD

  10. Gal Fan says:

    hey! great job guys! im from gal but yea im glad you won but u gotta say it was lucky :] there were soooo many rigged calls and that really affected the game for lincoln! but it helped us! lol! soo dont be too happy cuz those calls were rigged though. lol. they would of beaten you guys. without those calls and if they made less errors! congrats though……..ahaha

  11. Mustang vball says:

    It’s kinda nice that the coach who got boy’s vball in the spotlight for SF public HS’s graduated from Gal. He would no doubt be proud of Gal’s win over Lincoln. That just means everyone has got to step it up next year. RIP Mr. Yan!

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