Hector Sanchez has coached Lawrence’s men’s volleyball team since 2018, but when the Lancers played their first game this season on April 6 against Lowell, nerves went through him like they would a first-year coach.
In a way, he was.
While the pandemic hit Lawrence harder than most other cities and remote learning affected the numbers, the program had no team last season while the rest of the state resumed the game. Lowell’s game was the first time the Lancers have played a game in nearly three years, so with only a few players remaining on the schedule since the team last played in 2019, that’s about a whole new experience in 2022.
Sanchez felt every moment of it.
“I was out for two seasons so I felt like a new coach again,” he said. “I had fun. It was my first game (in a while); I was nervous and all. But once we started playing, I made sure to have fun too. Not putting pressure extra to earn all those things.
Lawrence then lost and dropped all five matches so far this season. But as it continues to grow as a brand new program, that feeling of enjoying the moment and focusing on having a good season is what Sanchez instills in his players.
Sanchez thinks back to last year, having to watch the rest of the state resume play when his program could only muster five players because the school was still strictly entrenched in the remote learning program. Four of them were seniors.
“The first year, at least everyone was in the same situation,” he said. “Every team was in it. Last year was a bit (deeper) and hurt a bit more because obviously our city was impacted more than any other city. Not having had a season l Last year for these seniors, it really hurt me more.
It’s no surprise at the relief he felt when 50 student-athletes showed up for the trials, including 12 on the varsity team and 20 on the junior varsity. Senior Captain Julio Santana – the only one of five players who trained three times a week last year to return to the team this year – helps lead a group that led Andover to five sets in their last defeat.
It’s a far cry from the teams that made it to the 2018 Div. 1 North final, but the progress is definitely there. Still, Sanchez’s goal for the team remains the same.
“They get there…but my (message to them) is to just have fun,” he said. “What I tell my players is to just be happy you’re having a season. It doesn’t matter what happens, the records. Have fun and enjoy every minute because you never know what’s going to happen. pass.
• While the glory of winning the state championship was enhanced by the fact that a single division made you the ultimate champion, the new two-division format is a breath of fresh air for the little ones programs across the state. Reigning Division 1 state champion Needham is just one of many schools roughly three times the size of a grand crop of programs, so the new division creates better opportunities for the 63 teams that dropped out. This opens the door to much more competitive first-round matchups at tournament time.
• Senior O’Bryant executives Jonathan Narsjo and passer Son Nguyen the two set career bests twice in the past week. Narsjo’s 33 kills against New Bedford is a school record and Nguyen’s 50 assists helped the Tigers to 5-2.
• The return of Guillaume Kohlasch of injury, as well as DCL All-Stars Matteo Luciani and Austin Li, burst Lexington onto the contenders’ scene after missing the playoffs last year. The Minutemen are 7-0 with a signature Newton South sweep.