By Ryan Kuhn
Balboa High School used momentum to push into the Academic Athletic Association finals for the third time in four years after a 25-22, 20-25, 25-20, 25-19 win over visiting Lincoln in the league semifinals on Tuesday.
After falling behind 16-11 in the fourth game, the Buccaneers went on a 14-3 run to end the game and seal the match, knocking the defending AAA champions out of the playoffs.
“In my mind, I didn’t want to get that fifth game going,” said Balboa head coach Val Cubales. “I just shut my mouth and let them play. They were playing awesome. They really pulled it together.”
All four games were close and both teams exchanged the lead in the first game, until Balboa scored four points in a row to close the game, two coming on kills from junior outside hitter Cynthia Ngan. Ngan finished the match with nine kills.
Lincoln showed resiliency in the second game, with outside hitter Amanda Loo scoring four of her team’s first six points. The Bucs came back to tie the score late, but an ace by Loo and a pair of kills by Maggie Chen kept Lincoln’s lead intact.
Even though Lincoln’s quest for a repeat championship is over, head coach Vincent Tang said his team has overcome a lot in 2011, including forfeits and suspensions.
“I’m proud of the fact that they pushed through it and fought hard,” Tang said. “I know my girls are good, it just didn’t happen for us.”
Balboa will face off against league-undefeated Lowell in the AAA championship on Thursday.
“We are here to take it,” said Balboa outside hitter Elaine Guan. “We are here to fight. We are going to take it all the way.”