This was supposed to be the year the Bronx Science girls volleyball program would come crashing back to Earth. After three straight Bronx A Division titles and deep runs in the Public School Athletic League postseason — not to mention three consecutive perfect regular-season records — this year’s version of the Wolverines was supposed to be a shell of its former self.
Gone were seven seniors lost to graduation, replaced with a roster dotted with nine freshmen and a smattering of sophomores with just a pinch of juniors. There is nary a senior to be found.
So this looked like an open invitation for the likes of Walton or Columbus to finally end the Wolverines’ reign as division heavyweights.
Only someone forgot to tell Science their time as divisional kingpins was up.
Last week, in the Science’s first true test of the season, the Wolverines swept both Walton and Columbus in straight sets to improve to 5-0 on the season as they reside, once again, in the divisional penthouse.
“This is the youngest squad we’ve ever had on the varsity,” Science head coach Dan Skilins said after his team’s 25-16, 25-22 victory over Columbus last week. “They’re playing really well. We’ve had some ups and downs, so we’re trying to get more consistent. But with a young team, you’re going to get that disparity at times.”
And to help achieve that team consistency, Skilins says he leans heavily on his two junior captains, Amanda Maeglin and Darya Lollos, to help mold the young team.
“I think our captains are doing a marvelous job,” Skilins said. “They are fantastic captains. They go above and beyond keeping the team cohesive and helping with the maturation process of a young team.”
The two captains put on quite a show in the Wolverines’ two victories last week as Maeglin posted 12 aces, 19 service points and 11 kills in the two wins, while Lollos contributed nine service points, eight kills and three aces. But the Wolverines also got significant contributions from freshman Grace Lorch, who logged 25 assists and eight digs, as well as sophomores Lucia Cho (10 digs) and Anya Lollos (12 kills, nine digs, seven service points).
It’s a youthful roster that has Maeglin excited, if not surprised, at the Wolverines’ 5-0 start.
“We’re really young,” Maeglin said. “But I don’t think I’m as much surprised at our start as I am encouraged. Coming into this season I knew we had a lot of girls who knew how to play. We have a lot of girls here who play on travel teams, and they really want to play and do really well. But to see us playing this well makes me super excited for the playoffs and the coming years.”
The quick break from the starting gate has caught Skilins a bit by surprise.
“I was hoping we would stay consistent with what our goals are, which is to win the division every year and move far in the PSAL” playoffs, Skilins said. “But I like the crew that we have.”
The victory over Columbus made it 41 straight regular-season wins for Science. But it’s not a streak that gets talked about at the school.
“We just go into each match with the attitude and preparation to be successful,” Skilins said. “That’s our goal as a team.”
But Maeglin thinks it’s a streak worth celebrating — and acknowledging.
“In the three years I’ve been on the team, I’ve never lost a game in the regular season,” Maeglin said.
“I think the freshmen know a little bit that PSAL games are our games. We come into those games and our goal is to win as quickly as possible. We just don’t want to lose.”
So with six games remaining in the regular season — and with four of those against teams in the bottom half of the division — are we looking at a Bronx Science team that is again the one to beat in the Bronx A Division? Is it possible the Wolverines simply reloaded when they were expected to rebuild?
“I would like to say, ‘Yes, we are the team to beat,’” Maeglin said. “I would like to think that we’re a team that other teams want to beat and work hard against. I would like to think we’re instilling a little fear in teams.”