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June 6, 2013

Lawrence quells St. John's Prep to win Division 1 North title

(Continued)

Even though Lawrence stole the momentum in game two, the Eagles had no reason to think they were going down the tubes anytime soon. It was 13-all in the middle of game three – a dead heat.

It was unquestionably the pivotal point in the match, and Lawrence was the team that promptly took ownership. The Lancers scored 12 of the next 15 points to take game three, 25-16, and then it jumped out to a 17-4 lead in game four. St. John’s wasn’t dispirited, but when you get outscored 29-7 in a key stretch like that, it’s going to take a miracle to come back. There were no miracles in the playbook.

“We were blocking everything in game one,” said Celli. “I mean, we were all over the net. After that? Well, it was partly us and partly them. They kept whaling the ball and when you don’t do a good job of blocking against a good hitting team it’s going to be a tough night. Lawrence started dictating all the points. Lack of defense cost us in the end.”

Lawrence is a flamboyant team and when the Lancers sensed the tide was turning, they turned it up a notch. They kept the ball alive on the long points and attacked viciously at the net. It was a lethal combination.

“I thought their outside hitters were phenomenal,” said Celli, referring to Anibal and Jeyson Henriquez, who were co-MVPs of the Merrimack Valley Conference. “We started making errors, but they were forced errors. Lawrence was better than us tonight and definitely deserved to win.”

Hajjar insisted that any strategical moves he employed were a secondary factor in the win.

“Spirit and attitude won this for us,” said the Lawrence coach. “Our kids just wanted it more.”

Lawrence will play Central sectional winner Milford in the state semifinals (day and time to be announced). As much as he would’ve loved to be part of an upset win last night, Keough made it clear where his rooting interest will be the rest of the way.

“I know those (Lawrence) kids,” he said. “I played with them all winter. They’re a really good team. Since it can’t be us, there’s no team I’d rather see win the (state championship) than them.”

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