LOWELL -- The Lowell High boys volleyball team has quickly served notice that it's a force to be reckoned with this spring.

Lowell is off to a sizzling 6-1 start with signature victories over perennial Merrimack Valley Conference powers Chelmsford and Lawrence. This early-season spike in success has a resurgent Lowell club, which finished with a 10-11 record last year, playing at a high level while gaining altitude in the league standings.

With six seniors leading the way, each of whom has bought into head coach Paul McCarthy's team-first philosophy, the Red Raiders have shown there's no limit to what a group can accomplish when it plays as a unit.

"This is our best start since I've been here," said McCarthy, who has been involved with the Red Raiders' program on and off since 1995.

Practicing their skills during Wednesday’s practice were Mendoza, front left, Olu, right, and Di, center. The Red Raiders are off to a strong 6-1
Practicing their skills during Wednesday's practice were Mendoza, front left, Olu, right, and Di, center. The Red Raiders are off to a strong 6-1 start to their season after besting Malden. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE
"It's just a great group of kids. It's not just one individual carrying us. We're winning as a collective group. It's important to play as a team. Kids have off days and other people are picking them up. We have great depth.

"They're getting the job done on and off the court. I've passed around papers to their teachers looking to see how they are doing in school. So many of these papers are returned to me with the words, 'Just a pleasure to have in class.' It's the same way in the gym, too. These guys put a smile on my face every day."

This Red Raider revival is being spearheaded by co-captains Brendan Di and Randy Pang, who have lifted their level of play and helped carry their teammates up with them.


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"This team is pretty good," said Di, a middle/outside hitter with over 50 kills. "We're better than we've been in past years. We have real good chemistry. Team chemistry means everything in volleyball. To set up passes and hits, you have to know how everyone plays. The better the chemistry, the better the team plays."

Lowell's entire roster is made up of upperclassmen. Nearly all of these players have a good amount of varsity playing time and the blissful convergence of talent and experience that is taking place shows in the Red Raiders' record.

"I've seen the program being built up the last couple of years," said Pang, a senior setter with 105 assists. "We've come a long way. We've improved each year. This year everything is coming together. We have lots of good players. We're really playing well right now."

Much like the city of Lowell itself, this talented group of Red Raiders is ethnic, proud and willing to put in the work it takes to reach its long-term goals.

"I like the fact we have many nationalities here," said McCarthy, who credits assistant Brandon Seng with playing an important role in the fast start. "It's a melting pot. It's just like Lowell High. They're all great friends who are following in the footsteps of the players they learned from. The kids who came before them taught this group how to be good teammates and what it takes to win."

Di, Sabriel Mendoza, Buth Ly and Adriel Garcia have consistently made their presence felt at the net. Pang and Petey Som regularly set the Red Raiders' potent -attack in motion. Libero Ricky Kho heads up Lowell's swarm-to-the-ball defense.

Jackie Kho, Charles Tran, Chance Ly, Aakash Patel, Eddy Olu, Julian Tang, Calvin Yonn, Desmond Dao and Alex Salvat have also been playing well.

Lowell suffered its first loss to Haverhill on Tuesday. The Red Raiders rebounded with a 3-0 non-league win over Malden on Thursday.

"The beauty of this group is their ability to learn from their mistakes," said McCarthy. "I'm glad we got that first loss out of the way. I think we'll be a better team going forward for having learned from it. This team works hard. I just tweak the system a little bit and make sure they're communicating with each other and in the right spots. They always go out and try their best. It's really a simple formula for success."

Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi