Balboa’s reserves may as well have taken a nap during Tuesday night’s match against Lincoln.
The Buccaneer starters were simply so dominant that their services were hardly needed.
Nalia Faataui, Yaya Siolo and Amara Banez led a front line that overpowered the Mustangs in a three-set sweep (25-15, 25-18, 25-20), keeping Balboa in a tie for first place with Lowell atop the Academic Athletic Association (AAA) volleyball standings.
Balboa (15-4, 6-0 AAA) will host Lowell (12-8, 6-0) to round out the first half of the double round-robin schedule. The teams meet for a second time at Lowell on Oct. 25 to close out the regular season.
“I don’t usually have girls with club experience,” Balboa head coach Val Cubales said. “These girls have been with me for four years now, and it’s been a blessing for them to grace Balboa.”
The Buccaneers jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead in an opening set that started at 5:24 p.m., six minutes earlier than scheduled. In those six minutes, it was apparent that Balboa’s power would simply be too much for Lincoln to handle.
“Our practices are mostly passing drills because we know what they can do in the front,” Cubales said. “We don’t really have a libero or a defensive specialist, and the setters don’t set on their club teams. They’re outside hitters, but I had to adjust them into setters because they have the best hands on the team.”
Onlookers would have been surprised to find that Siolo and Kristen Tsang weren’t typically setters, because they looked like a seasoned tandem on Tuesday, constantly setting Banez and Faataui up for kills. Faataui and Siolo combined to close out the first set, where Balboa won 10 of the final 14 points after Lincoln (5-7, 4-2) had cut the lead to 15-11.
Nevaeh Faataui and Jillian Lee rounded out the regular lineup for Cubales’ side, which raced out to an early 8-1 lead in the second set and held a 10-point advantage before the Mustangs claimed five straight points to cut the lead to 21-16. Lincoln held brief 5-4 and 6-5 leads in Set 3, the only time the Mustangs led throughout the entire match.
“They have a lot more experience than we do,” Lincoln head coach Vince Tang said. “We have no returning varsity players from last year, but our young team is learning.”
The Buccaneers won six straight points to take an 11-6 lead, then took eight of the next 12 before emptying the bench and finishing the match off in a brisk hour and 10 minutes.
Lincoln hosts Washington (6-10, 4-2) on Friday. The winner will hit the halfway point of the league schedule with sole possession of third place.
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]