Over the past four seasons, the Bronx Science boys volleyball team has posted a combined 37-3 regular-season record, shared three Bronx A Division crowns, and posted an unbeaten regular season this year while winning the division crown outright.
But the one thing that has vexed this program during that span has been their playoff performances, which have all been of the short-lived variety.
But this postseason, the Wolverines swore things would be different, and last week they made good on that promise. Bronx Science took down Edward R. Murrow 25-12, 25-17 in the second round of the Public School Athletic League playoffs.
After three straight years of being bounced in the second round, the No. 3 seed Wolverines are now off to the quarterfinals where they were scheduled to host sixth-seeded Hunter on May 14.
“There’s always been a curse on us,” said senior Ryan Kim, who had eight service points and five kills in the win. “We’ve always lost in the second round. This is my fourth year on the team and we’ve never gone past the second round, so it just feels great. It’s pretty crazy.”
There was little doubt from the start against Murrow that Science would take that next step toward a city championship.
They needed just 19 minutes to post the victory in the first set as the Wolverines jumped out to a 7-1 lead at the start, increased their advantage to 16-5 midway through, and coasted to the easy 25-12 victory — clinched with a devastating kill by Jake Goldsmith.
The second set was a closer affair as Murrow managed to hang around for a while, even tying Science at 14. But that’s when the Wolverines flipped the switch and outscored the Magic 11-3 down the stretch with another Goldsmith kill ending the set.
“I thought we had the ability all season to get here, so it’s nice to know that we fulfilled our goal and hopefully keep this run going,” said Goldsmith, who finished with 11 kills and six blocks in the victory. “This is the farthest I’ve gone since I’ve been playing here at Science. It’s actually the farthest everyone on this team has gone, so it’s a really good feeling. But it’s been expected.”
Wolverines experienced a little lull in intensity in the second set, Goldsmith said, after breezing through the first with ease.
“I think after that first set, it’s something we’ve been doing a little bit all season, we get way too excited and confident, and we start joking around on the floor and it gets our level (of play) down a little bit,” Goldsmith said. “But I think in this game, we did a good job of kind of countering that and staying pretty consistent.”
The victory came on the birthday of stellar junior setter Ethan Chen, who celebrated his big day by logging 20 assists.
The victory was so dominant from start to finish that it left Science head coach Dan Skilins with no complaints.
“They were in sync today,” Skilins said. “I didn’t see any weaknesses. We got a little lackadaisical in the second game, but you could tell in the first game we were playing really well in every way. Everyone was outstanding.”
Now it’s off to the quarterfinals, and a date with Hunter.
“We’ve had some really good outcomes against Hunter,” Skilins said. “We played them twice this season and we came away with a couple of Ws against them. They’re a very solid team with some really good players, but I like the way we match up against them.”
A victory over Hunter would move the Wolverines into the semifinals, where the expected opponent would be a McKee/Staten Island Tech team that has won the last three PSAL championships.
Bring it on, says Skilins.
“We really want to play MSIT,” the coach said. “That’s really our focus. And then we know we want to play Fort Hamilton in the finals. That’s all we’re working towards. So the first step is done and moving on to Step 2. Take care of Hunter and move on to Step 3, which is MSIT.
“One step at a time. We’re aware of that, and today was a good example of how focused and prepared we were.”
Skilins is not surprised this Science team is on the precipice of greatness.
“At the beginning of the year they said, ‘We want to play everybody. We want to go far in the PSAL. We want to be in the championship,’” Skilins said. “So far, I’ve been very happy. We set high goals and high standards and they’ve come through.”