Girls Volleyball: Balboa wins first AAA title in school history over undefeated Lowell

Balboa players celebrate after a point against Lowell in the AAA girls volleyball championship on Thursday at Kezar Pavilion. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Jeremy Balan

Balboa High School finally put an end to its dreaded championship drought on Thursday night, and they did it against the Academic Athletic Association’s best team.

With a 25-23, 25-16, 15-25, 25-15 win over Lowell at Kezar Pavilion, the Buccaneers clinched their first AAA girls volleyball title in school history and ended what was an undefeated league season for the Cardinals.

Balboa junior outside hitter Cynthia Ngan leaps up to contest a Lowell attack on Thursday at Kezar Pavilion. (Photo by Devin Chen)

Balboa has advanced to the postseason in every year since 2004 and has reached the championship game in three of the past four years. The win also gives Balboa its first AAA title in any sport since 2009, when head coach Val Cubales led the boys volleyball team to a league championship.

“I can’t even state it in words, it’s just huge,” Cubales said. “This sport has been dominated for so long by Lowell and Lincoln, but these girls have worked so hard to get here.”

The Bucs (19-11) were led by a match-high 15 kills, including five in the final game, from junior outside hitter Cynthia Ngan, but four other hitters also tallied five kills or more.

“It feels so great. We made history,” Ngan said. “We just wanted to beat them and give it to them. I don’t even have the words. We just got it this year.”

Sophomore setter Maribel Matos orchestrated the Balboa offense, but what may have given the Bucs the biggest lift was her six kills, all coming on sets on second contact that caught the Lowell defense off-guard.

“I told Maribel that she had to be that offensive player with the offense we run,” Cubales said. “They were camping on Cynthia. With all three blockers leaning on Cynthia, we knew that was an opening.”

Balboa controlled the deciding fourth game, but it was a seesaw first game that put the Bucs up early. The opening game featured 18 ties, eight lead changes, and no team led by more than two points. Tied at 23-23, Ngan put down a kill to give the Bucs an edge, then a block from junior middle blocker Kayla Toatelegese put the game away.

“That was a big game, and that was a game we really wanted,” Cubales said. “It really set the tone for the rest of the match.”

Lowell (29-8) dominated the AAA all season and brought a 13-0 league record into the championship game, but never seemed to get in sync offensively, other than a standout third game.

Lowell senior outside hitter Chelan McGinty sends an attack past a pair of Balboa blockers on Thursday at Kezar Pavilion. (Photo by Devin Chen)

“We just played tentative,” said Lowell head coach Steven Wesley. “I don’t think it had to do with relaxing or being anxious, we were just over-thinking everything and tried to be perfect.”

Still, after Balboa took a two-game lead, the Cardinals offense was on in the third game, riding five kills from senior outside hitter Chelan McGinty, who finished with a team-high 10 kills.

“We knew we still had a lot of work to do,” Wesley said. “We were still down. We had to step it up a lot more than that.”

Balboa took control again in the fourth, and after Lowell took an early 9-8 lead, the Bucs went on a 11-2, run and cruised to the win.

“We knew they would come out strong in every game. Lowell is a great-starting team,” Cubales said. “We just had to hold them and be patient. They were just awesome.”

Balboa will now enter the Division III state championship tournament as the San Francisco Section representative. The tournament begins on Nov. 22.

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15 Comments

  1. GCJ01 says:

    Congrats Bal! You deserved to win it all!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Cheap shots and luck won’t help Balboa get any further in the tournament. The better team lost last night.
    Overall the game was horrible. Neither team could consistently keep a serve in or over the net. The essence of volleyball wasn’t even there. There were very few rallies, and if there were Lowell prevailed. Congratulations to Balboa for getting ahead with some slight edge, but they should not feel like the winning team when they were dependent on tips and dumps for the points.
    Over the past few years, the competitiveness between Lowell, Lincoln and Balboa has been wonderful to watch. Balboa has had some great teams, especially during 2006-2009, they had great all-around players that could kill and play defensively.
    This game, although historical, was one of the worst games I have seen both of these teams play.

    • Anonymous says:

      haters gonna hate.
      Bal was the better team yesterday. We played a better game and pulled out with the lead. We weren’t making the mistakes Lowell was making. Sure Lowell looked awesome during warmups and came into championships with an undefeated season, but they fell apart once the game started.
      LET”S GO LADY BUCS!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      yo yo yo yo grow up please and thank you

  3. Anonymous says:

    Stop hating.Lowell got scrapped.if Lowell was smart like they say they are in class they would’ve read balboas plays.but balboa’s wayy to slick.

  4. vballfan says:

    For real!! and you obviously don’t even know what your talking about. Both teams fought hard last night which hasn’t been true the last two championships. Last year lincoln dominated in championships against bal and the year before they did the same against lowell.
    Bal won for a reason, and both teams played hard

  5. afan says:

    ‘cheap shots and luck’ – as said above – stop hating..

    Let the winners enjoy their victory without your put downs about how they were just “lucky”and not as good as previous teams….

  6. anon says:

    obviously bal wanted it more… lowell acted so cool

  7. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think volleyball likes you:( poor person

  8. Anonymous says:

    Go Bal! Sorry you got killed by Mercy SF though.

  9. Crazy Fan says:

    This site brings more drama then FACEBOOK! Maybe people shouldn’t be allowed to comment on these articles. This site just gives kids and even sad adults the ability to bash on one another. TSK TSK TSK!

  10. Anonymous says:

    whoooaaa no need to bash on lincoln for winning the past two championships. of course they worked hard to win those. they didnt choke like the other teams. dont say they didnt earn those championships because they did. played calm and composed like real teams should. they even did it without their coach! so no need to get mad. but anyway glad balboa won . they have an amazing coach who taught them that smashing the ball hard doesnt get you a win. they were smart by placing the ball. if you played volleyball you would know its not “cheap”. and its true that bal didnt have “great-all around players”, but they played like a team, unlike lowell.

    • vballfan says:

      sorry if you felt that i was bashing on lincoln, thats not what i meant. what i meant was that bal and lowell didn’t come hard the last two years but lincoln did. But this year both teams came hard and bal came out on top.

  11. Neutral says:

    Awesome game! I played the back up setter for UC Santa Barbara for four years and I thought the Balboa’s setter was so clever! She would dump the ball in transition when she felt the blockers were leaning to her “go to” outside hitter! If you watched Lowell’s defense on occasion the front would lean or step to get to the outside to put a triple block on Balboa’s strong OH leaving the Lowell’s awesome libero to cover basically a quarter or the whole left side of the court! I’m a neutral fan and thought it was clever more so than the earlier comment saying that it was “cheap” or “lucky?” You really have to play at a high level of volleyball to understand strategies of what coaches and players are trying to do to win!

  12. Fanatgame says:

    I watched this game with interest. It was a hard fought game on both sides of the net! The dinks were good strategy. Balboa’s setter was on her game and awake at the net. No problem with her play.
    Lowell had some problems transitioning and passing. Both teams played hard and the team that made the fewest mistakes won.

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