After an error-riddled beginning, Lowell High School was able to clean up its play and get a win over Lincoln 16-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-23 in its Academic Athletic Association opener Tuesday night.
“We didn't focus up [in the first set],” Lowell outside hitter Jaela Caston said. “We expected something different. We didn't play our best, we weren't playing smart. We just needed to focus up and that's what we did.”
Lowell (4-1, 1-0 AAA) was undefeated in league play a year ago and dominated last year's matchup with Lincoln. This year's game looked to be on the same track when the Cardinals took a quick 3-0 lead behind two kills from Jaela Caston.
Lincoln quickly responded. With Lowell leading the first set 7-5, the Mustangs went on a 4-1 run with three kills from Melanie Estonina to take a 10-8 lead.
Following a kill from Caston, which pulled Lowell within four, Lincoln went on a 7-2 run to take the set 25-16.
“Our coach was saying we went from being a team to being individuals and since we are a new team, we really haven't found our connection yet,” Caston said. “We're working on being a team and not playing for ourselves.”
The second set began like the first. Lowell jumped out to an early 7-1 lead and got two kills and a block from Casto,n but again the Lowell mistakes allowed Lincoln to hang around.
The Mustangs chipped away at the lead and eventually cut the lead to two on a kill from Kelly Simon.
Lowell converted on four straight points but a service error started a 4-0 run for Lincoln to bring the score to 22-20.
A kill from Lowell's Kris Hui sparked Lowell and they were able to take the set 25-21.
Lowell finally found its offense in the third set. The Cardinals went on an 11-2 run that included seven kills, two each from Caston and Celina Kong, as they took a 22-18 lead en route to the 25-21 win.
The Cardinals took a 13-7 lead in the fourth set only to see Lincoln erase the deficit with a 7-1 run with three kills from Estonina. Lowell responded and was able to gut out the win for the match behind kills from Amorelle Applin.
Lowell returns to action on Friday for a road match against Washington, while Lincoln hosts Leadership on Friday.