Paul McCarthy has a list of rules he’s developed for his players over the years as the longtime head coach of the Lowell boys volleyball team – covering effort, attitude, and such on the court. It’s the kind of thing that’s helped the program grow leaps and bounds since assistant coach Brandon Seng played for McCarthy in 2012.
When mentioning the list to an outsider, the always-modest coach sort of shrugs it off. No big deal. But to senior hitter Tevin Lout, who couldn’t play for the program his sophomore and junior years because of COVID, it’s pretty significant.
“He showed me the picture (he kept) of the rules I set for the team three years ago,” McCarthy said. “I was surprised he still had them.”
One of the quieter leaders of the team, Lout says missing the last two years – 2020 because of no season, 2021 because of family at high-risk – was more out-of-sight, out-of-mind for him. Those who see his passion on the court and his constant reminders during practice that “this year is (his) year,” know otherwise.
He missed playing. So did senior setter Alex Chau, who missed the same amount of time to focus on basketball.
With the two stepping into key roles as part of a 12-1 start, it’s safe to say the team missed them too.
“When the seniors graduated, the two captains (Kythan Ses and Izaviah Hong), they (said), ‘This is what we’re missing, these are the two guys that we need,’” Seng said. “They went out to go get them, and they were on board. They got everything ready to go, nobody missed their physicals, everybody signed up on time. … They take it to another level, pushing everybody. One goal they have in mind – they want to win.”
Lout has played volleyball pretty much his whole life, going to a local park to hit around with his friends. He missed the last two years strictly because of COVID. Chau is open to trying out new things, evident by his involvement on the unified basketball team after interacting with his two cousins with autism more. He started playing volleyball in middle school because his friend circle – along with his brother – always wanted to hit around at the park.
The passions they show for the sport are different. But with Lout regularly posing a threat for 20-plus kills and Chau hovering 30 assists every game, their importance is equal. So is their desire to win, and their pleasure to be back.
“It was difficult last year (not to come back), I felt like I let the team down,” Lout said. “(The excitement to be back) is to prove a name for myself, and all of us. We came up short last year … we want to take it pretty far.”
“It’s my senior year, I’m not going to do nothing during my last few months, so I might as well play with my guys,” Chau added. “It’s been a lot of fun. … We want state’s. We want to put the number on the banner.”
So far, Lowell has lost just the one game – a 3-2 defeat to Westford Academy – with less than a month left in the regular season. There’s no doubt the Raiders wouldn’t be at this point without them, along with the impressive feats of Hong, Ses and middle blocker Mustafa Salih.
This year might just be Lout’s year for a big run – especially in the Merrimack Valley Conference. Either way, he and Chau are just happy to be back at it.
• Following a win over Lexington last month, St. John’s Prep senior setter Dan Schorr said the team isn’t shying away from the ultimate goal – making it to, and winning, the Div. 1 state championship – this year. His Eagles are 15-1 after beating fellow contender Newton South on Monday, and rank No. 4 in the latest Div. 1 MIAA power rankings.
• Westford Academy has surged to the No. 2 spot in the power rankings, riding an 11-game win streak with notable victories over Newton South, Lowell, Lincoln-Sudbury and Acton-Boxboro.