Lydia Lee elevated, brought down her right hand and was surrounded by celebrating teammates almost before she landed.
The Lincoln sophomore outside hitter had just slammed down her 13th and final kill, capping a 15-11 Game 5 victory and giving the Mustangs a tense 3-2 win over host Balboa in a San Francisco Section girls’ volleyball semifinal. Lincoln (21-7) lost the first two games before rallying and will now face 11-time defending champion Lowell in Thursday’s 7 p.m. final at Kezar Pavilion.
“The intensity of the match and especially that last game was incredible,” Lee said. “So to make good contact with that last ball and put it away was total excitement.”
Lee’s match-clinching spike came off a feed from senior setter Allison Yee (28 assists) and left a crowded Balboa gym in disbelief. The Buccaneers (29-5) were on the verge of the first section final appearance in school history after winning the first two games 25-14 and 25-22, led by the smooth passing of Vivian Lee (27 assists) and the explosive hitting of Jacklyn Lee (13 kills). But Lincoln battled back, taking the third game 25-20 and cruising to a 25-9 win in Game 4, setting up the dramatic conclusion. Lincoln 3, Balboa 2
LOWELL 3, WASHINGTON 0
The top-seeded Cardinals (18-12) defeated the Eagles in three games, giving Lowell a spot in Thursday’s final and a chance at its 12th consecutive section championship.
Washington (8-4) finished fourth in Academic Athletic Association play, behind a three-way tie for first between the other playoff teams. But the Eagles came out strong, proving their mettle with a 5-2 lead to begin the match, prompting Lowell coach Reva Vrana to call a timeout.
“Basically, our coach told us to turn it up,” Lowell junior Katrina Lau said. “And we really did turn it up this match.”
The first game was a back-and-forth nail-biter with three lead changes and impressive offense from Washington’s Jessica Nicerio. Eventually, though, the Cardinals’ consistency wore down the Eagles; Lowell started the third game with an 8-0 lead.
Lau dished up six aces and served for 10 points in the third game, including the first eight and last two.
“I was nervous, definitely,” Lau said of serving under pressure. “But I just took my time, did my usual routine, and kept it in the court.”
Nicole Lee had seven kills for Lowell. Washington’s Amanda Yee had seven blocks.
— Amanda Stupi
S.F. Section playoffs
» Lincoln def. Balboa 14-25, 22-25, 25-20, 25-9, 15-11
» Lowell def. Washington 25-23, 25-19, 25-15
At Kezar Pavilion
» Lincoln (21-7) vs. Lowell (18-12), 7 p.m.