Amanda Maeglin was sure this was not going to be how Bronx Science’s season would end.
The Wolverines’ volleyball team had already cruised through an unbeaten regular season, captured their fourth consecutive Bronx A Division crown, and had dispatched the High School for Art & Design in their Public School Athletic League playoff opener.
All of that led to a second-round playoff matchup with Townsend Harris in a win-or-go-home scenario.
And after losing the first set 25-17 — the first lost set of the season for the Wolverines — Science was locked in a 24-24 tie with Harris, its season very much on the line. And when Science head coach Dan Skilins called a timeout, it was Maeglin who took over the meeting.
“In that huddle it becomes a point of clarity,” the junior co-captain said. “We focus, we gather together, and we make sure we’re all on the same page when we go back in. I’ve seen everyone on this team play volleyball, and I know what they can do. I told them that. I just told them they need to play smart and have to want it.”
But despite Maeglin’s motivational speech, ninth-seeded Harris went on to score the next two points as the Hawks stunned No. 8 Science 25-17, 26-24, ending the Wolverines’ season.
“In that second set I thought it was going three” sets, Skilins said. “I thought we were going to come back. But we definitely didn’t execute when we had some opportunities. You know you only get a few against a really good team, and my hat is off to them because I thought they played extremely well. They kept the pressure on us from the start.”
The Wolverines sure looked as though they were headed for a decisive third set when they pulled ahead 22-17, seeming to have momentum on their side. But Harris responded by recording the next four points, and suddenly it was a precarious 22-21 lead for Science.
Before long, it was tied at 23, and when Anya Lollos’ kill gave Science a 24-23 lead, it seemed the Bronx champs were about to extend the match. But Harris tied it once again at 24, leading to Maeglin’s impassioned speech and, ultimately, the season-ending defeat for Science.
“I wasn’t surprised at how they came back,” said Maeglin, who had four service points, four kills and three digs in the match. “They seem like a very consistent team. They were able to put their serves away and put their hits in the right spots and do what they needed to do to put the ball in play.
“I think that’s where we fall short as a team sometimes. When we start to feel the pressure, that’s when we make our mistakes, and that wasn’t the case with Townsend.”
Anya Lollos finished with six kills and four digs. Co-captain Darya Lollos added four kills, four digs and four service points. Grace Lorch had a team-high 14 assists. Josephine Kinlan chipped in with eight service points and four kills. And Lucia Cho logged nine digs and four service points.
But the one thing Maeglin thinks Science was lacking in? Fire. Which was odd, considering what was at stake.
“We wanted to win, but we weren’t hungry to win,” she said. “They were ready. They were the lower seed and were playing away and wanted to win, and they came in and took it. One of the problems we have as a team is that we try so hard to kill every ball and play super strong when we should be playing smart.”
It was an unfortunate ending to a stellar and surprising season for a team that went 12-0 in the regular season with a roster of 12 freshmen and sophomores among its 15 players. There are no seniors.
“I’m very happy the way the season went,” Skilins said. “Sure I would have liked for us to get to the quarters and the semifinals. We really wanted to play (top-seeded) Hunter.”
The silver lining for Science is it will return its entire roster next season when Maeglin expects a much hungrier bunch of Wolverines to make a long playoff run.
“We’re such a young team and we have next year,” she said. “I expect everyone to come back next season at a higher point from where we left off.
“I want everyone to be hungry and really want it. But I told them I’m super, super proud of them and for the season we had. It was amazing.”