By Jeremy Balan
Lowell High School’s boys volleyball team kept pace with fellow unbeaten Galileo with a 25-9, 25-17, 25-13 Academic Athletic Association win on the road against Lincoln on Wednesday, but that likely won’t be what those in attendance will remember from the match.
With Lowell (4-0 in AAA) leading 12-4 in the first game, Lincoln outside hitter Lorenzo Limcaco leapt up to send an attack over the net, but came down awkwardly on his right ankle.
The result was as gruesome as it was disheartening, because Limcaco was playing in his first game of the season due to a delay in his transfer paperwork from another school. The junior’s right ankle snapped toward his left leg at a nearly 90-degree angle when it hit the floor, as a result of an apparent broken lower leg or ankle.
After a brief moment of shock, the referees stopped play and Lincoln head coach Vincent Tang immediately dialed 911 as he was attending to Limcaco.
“It sucks because it was his first game,” Tang said. “He was very excited to play and he’s very gifted athletically. It was just a freak accident.”
It took paramedics just over 5 minutes to arrive and Limcaco began to try lighten the mood of his tense teammates and parents in the stands after he began receiving medical attention.
At first, he started to joke with his teammates, drawing cautious laughs. Then, he looked toward his mother in the stands and said, “I love you mom,” with a toothy smile.
After a nearly 30-minute delay, paramedics secured Limcaco’s ankle and got him on a stretcher. As they rolled Limcaco out of the gym, he yelled, “go Lincoln!”
“Reality kinda hits when things like that happen,” said Lowell head coach Steven Wesley. “It’s tough. It’s not just a jumping sport. There’s a lot more to it. It’s a landing sport too.”
Even with Limcaco’s encouragement, the Mustangs (2-2 in AAA play) were overmatched from the start against the Cardinals and only recorded seven total kills in the game compared to Lowell’s 26.
“It was passing and setting,” Tang said. “We have guys who can put the ball away, but if we don’t pass the ball, it makes it more difficult for the setters and for the hitters.”
The Mustangs held a 4-3 lead early in the first game, but Lowell responded with a 11-0 run and Lincoln didn’t hold a lead in any game the rest of the way.
Junior outside hitter Jacob Blumenfeld led the Cardinals with eight kills and nine other Lowell players scored kills, but it was the strength of the Lowell defense that limited the Lincoln offense throughout.
Senior libero Jeffrey Wong had a match-high 25 digs to lead the Lowell defense and also had three aces in the 11-0 run in the first game.
“Our defense says a lot,” Wesley said. “We don’t like balls dropping and they take it personally when balls drop. I like that mentality, that’s for sure.”
The win sets up a showdown with defending-champion Galileo on Friday for first place outright in the AAA, a date that the Cardinals have had circled since the season’s schedule was released.
“Let’s be honest, we’ve been looking forward to this game since last year,” Wesley said. “We’re pretty much the same teams as last year and we expect a good match.”