From left, Jessi Etges, Gabriela Hernandez, Sarah Blumenfield and Makayla Scott celebrate during Lincoln’s win over Sonora last week. (Courtesy Eric Sun/Lincoln Athletics)

Lincoln volleyball makes history as first SF public school to reach state title game

Just as Mission’s boys basketball did eight months ago, Lincoln’s girls volleyball team is attempting to become the first San Francisco public school to win a state title.

In fact, no San Francisco public school team had ever won more than a play-in game in the state volleyball tournament until this year. Both Lincoln and City runner-up Lowell advanced out of the first round, and the Mustangs clinched the first state championship trip for any team from The City with last Saturday’s four-set victory over Sonora.

League MVP Caitlyn Chin, outside hitter Sara Blumenfeld and junior middle hitter Lana Radakovic have led the Mustangs to a 36-8 record, including wins in all 14 league matches. While Lowell did get the better of the Mustangs in a five-set match for the City championship, Lincoln has reached the state title game with a pair of straight-set victories over Drake and Christian Brothers and four-set wins over top-seeded Santa Catalina and Sonora.

“It’s been pretty crazy,” said head coach Vince Tran. “We knew we could make some noise this year with the new format, but to get this far is special.”

The new format, which sorts schools into divisions based on program history and strength of league, among other factors, put Lincoln in Division III instead of its typical place in Division I with other large public schools. That meant the Mustangs had to travel to Monterey to take on Santa Catalina in the NorCal semifinals, when they defeated the all-girls school with just over 200 students. Santa Catalina was promoted from its traditional place in Division V due to strength of the program.

Saturday’s championship game will take the Mustangs to Santiago Canyon College in Orange, where they’ll take on Point Loma, the top seed in Southern California. The appropriately-named Pointers own just a 22-12 record on the season, but play in an excellent league and have faced a rugged schedule. Point Loma was last year’s Division IV Southern California champion, but lost to Menlo in the state championship game.

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