After coasting through the first two sets Wednesday night, undefeated Lathrop found itself in a battle with visiting Ceres in the third set, trailing the Bulldogs 14-11 after five ties.
Enter Arman John.
John (13 kills, eight digs) came in off the bench to get down a resounding kill, starting the Spartans on a 9-0 run on the way to a 25-13, 25-17, 25-17 sweep in Western Athletic Conference boys volleyball action.
“When I came back in I was thinking that there was no way we were going to lose that game,” John said. “I was coming in with a good mindset and I wanted to be sure I was playing better than I played the last game.
“I came in with good energy since the bench was feeding me with positivity.”
Once John got Lathrop (13-0 WAC, 25-0 overall) the serve back, Lucas Baluyut (15 digs, four aces) took over at the service line, embarking on an eight-point service run behind a pair of aces to put the game out of reach.
“I don’t serve often,” Baluyut said. “So I wanted to make a statement while serving.
“I wanted to give us a good lead so we could get the rest of our players in.”
Tory Sumbler (31 assists, five digs, two aces) directed the potent Spartans attack.
“I am kind of like the quarterback out there,” Sumbler said. “I work on getting the hitters a hittable ball which is so important.
“As a setter it all starts with a pass and Lucas (Baluyut) did a good job of that tonight.”
Ceres (1-11, 2-14) played above its weight in that third match until the Spartans came to after John’s big kill.
“At this stage of the season it can be hard for them to focus,” Lathrop coach Toa Fa’ali’i said. “They can kind of lose focus.
“The playoffs are on our mind and at practice we will work hard.”
Jerico Santillan (nine kills, two digs, two aces), Christian Green (six digs, six kills, three aces), Jesse Macharia (five kills, two digs, ace) and Veeonn Taito (three digs, two kills) rounded out the Spartans attack.
Lathrop travels to Los Banos on Monday to face the Tigers at 6:30 p.m.