By Bonta Hill
Despite defeating visiting Lowell High School in four games on Monday — 25-10, 23-25, 25-19, 25-20 — Sacred Heart Cathedral head coach Nga Tran had mixed feelings afterward about her team’s performance.
In their second to last non-league match of the year, Tran wanted to get her bench some playing time. Tran accomplished just that, but was visibly disappointed with her bench’s play in the match.
“The bench just came out flat [tonight],” Tran said. “Our team has a lot of friends on the other side, and instead of playing a competitive match, it became casual and a sleepy match.”
Lowell (10-7), stepping out of its Academic Athletic Association schedule, came out tentative in the first game, but made things interesting the rest of the way.
The Cardinals rebounded from that ugly first game to take the second 25-23. Lowell remained close with Sacred Heart in the final two games, but was unable to get over the hump, as the Irish’s experience helped them prevail.
Still, Lowell coach Steven Wesley wasn’t disappointed with his team’s performance, a message he relayed to his team right after the match.
“[It was] lack of experience, but for the team to be able to hang around a team like [Sacred Heart], I can’t ask for any more,” Wesley said. “I told the team after the match I’m proud of them, and they showed me where they can get to in the future.”
Wesley expects his team to take this experience back into AAA play.
“I waited a long time to book a match against [Sacred Heart], because I wanted to see the progression of this team and program,” Wesley said. “We needed this, and we needed a chance to show we can play against tougher teams.”
The Irish (18-9), who were led by Hamidou Drammeh’s 18 kills and three blocks, have one more non-league game against Harker of San Jose, before a showdown against the West Catholic Athletic League’s top team, Bellarmine.
“Harker has a solid program like Lowell, so hopefully we’ll wake up,” Tran said. “We played good in the first game, but we’re going to have to do a better job at sustaining momentum.”