LOWELL — Leading 20-13 in the third set of their North semifinal game Saturday afternoon, the Lowell boys’ volleyball team looked well on its way to finishing off the set and taking a 2-1 lead over rival Lawrence.
Lawrence first-year coach Hector Sanchez then signaled for a timeout.
His pep talk worked. The Lancers stormed out of the timeout with a 12-3 run to take the set, 25-23, seizing the momentum on the way to a 3-1 victory in a matchup of co-Merrimack Valley Conference champions, 22-25, 25-21, 25-23, 25-18.
“I told them in that timeout when we were down 20-13 that we can still win this game,” said Sanchez.
“Because all the points that we gave were easy points. We just gave them the points, they didn’t earn the points. So I felt like we could have played better, and that’s what we did. They took the message and came back and won the set.”
Andre Wilson, the co-MVC Player of the Year, logged 13 kills. The Lancers (20-3) also received 13 kills apiece from Delfy Soler and Miguel Jackson. Setter Wilbert Minier orchestrated the balanced attack with 32 assists.
After splitting their two regular season matches, the Red Raiders (18-3) had every chance to take control of the match. Lowell led 20-18 in the second set before the Lancers closed on a 7-1 run to take the frame before also squandering the 20-13 lead in the the third.
The loss in the third set completely deflated the Red Raiders, who struggled to find consistency in the final set. Sokunbuth Ly, who shared MVC Player of the Year honors with Wilson, paced Lowell with 14 kills, and Pirak Som (37 assists, 6 blocks), Chance Ly (9 kills), and Desmond Dao (9 kills) also provided sparks.
“We had them 20-18 in the [second] game and then 20-13 in the [third] game and we just didn’t finish,” said Lowell coach Paul McCarthy. “My kids had a great year . . . I don’t want to take anything away from Lawrence. They did a great job. They peaked at the right time.”
Lawrence advances to Wednesday’s final at Tewksbury High against the Chelmsford-Wayland winner.Dan McLoone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.