It was a week to remember for the Bronx Science girls volleyball team.
It began with a second-round playoff win over a solid Long Island City program. It continued with an epic quarterfinal-round triumph over a dangerous Townsend Harris squad. And it ended with a victory in the semifinals over upstart John Jay, a team seeded 18th in the playoff field but which upset both No. 2 Francis Lewis and No. 7 Midwood to reach the semis.
And when it was all over, the No. 3-seed Wolverines had earned their place in the Public School Athletic League’s championship game for the first time. Yes, it has been quite the memorable ride for Science.
“I was excited for them after the (John Jay) game,” Science head coach Dan Skilins said. “I told them, ‘You’re going to the finals!’ and we all started jumping around.
“But I think they are set on winning this whole thing. I think this team feels like it’s great to be in the finals, but we’re not here to celebrate that. I think they really feel like they want that (championship) banner. They’re hungry.”
The week began in typical Bronx Science fashion as the Wolverines took down LIC 25-9, 25-18 in a match that took just 46 minutes to complete. But it was the matchup with Townsend Harris, the No. 6 seed, that looked to be Science’s stiffest test of the season. The Wolverines lost to Harris in a tournament game earlier this season, but this time the match was held at Bronx Science where the Wolverines just don’t lose. Ever.
And in what turned out to be one of the most riveting matches of the season, Science prevailed 25-20, 25-18, with Anya Lollos logging 13 kills, Grace Lorch posting 20 assists, Lucia Cho registering 11 digs, and Darya Lollos and Amanda Maeglin combining for 14 service points. That allowed the Wolverines to move on to the semifinals for the first time in three years.
“I think that’s the best we played in two years,” said Maeglin, a senior co-captain. “That was how we needed to play and how we can play.”
So confidence was high as Science faced John Jay in the semifinals at York College last Sunday. And there was no letdown in the Wolverines as they rolled to a convincing 25-16, 25-15 victory over the Jayhawks.
And there were stellar performances aplenty once again.
“We played very strong from the get-go,” Skilins said. “We’ve been known to come out slow, but we came out and started 4-0 and just continued to steamroll points. Anya and Grace were great, and Amanda and Darya had a very solid match. But it’s not really one player. They’re just playing so well as a team.”
That they are, yet Skilins couldn’t help but praise Lorch’s play.
“I think what stood out the most for me was Grace’s setting,” Skilins said. “She set some balls today that had the crowd saying, ‘Oh my God.’ She made all the right choices. She knew exactly where the ball needed to go. She was absolutely amazing.”
Bronx Science was set to face top-seeded Brooklyn Tech in the PSAL title game Nov. 19 at Queens College. And that match will feel just a little different for the Wolverines.
“It’s our first game coming in as the underdog,” said senior co-captain Darya Lollos. “But I think that we’re capable. If we play our game and play as hard as we did against Townsend and John Jay, then we have a very solid fighting chance.”
Maeglin, who like Darya Lollos was a member of the Science team that reached the semifinals in their freshman season, is just enjoying the Wolverines’ wild ride.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Maeglin said. “We’re peaking at the end of our season and in the playoffs, and it’s really exciting for us to watch everybody becoming themselves as players and feeling confident and ready on the court.”
From interested-bystander status in their freshman season to co-captains of a team on the verge of its first PSAL championship, Maeglin and Darya Lollos are hoping for one more brilliant performance that would finally bring some championship hardware home to Bronx Science.
“Darya and I were talking that it would be nice to go out with a bang,” Maeglin said. “We feel like in our four years we’ve taken the program to places it hasn’t been before. So it will be nice for us to leave seeing this fully formed, really wonderful group of girls stepping on the court in the finals.
“Against Brooklyn Tech we’re just looking to play to the best of our abilities and leave the court saying, ‘There’s nothing else I could have done, win or lose.’”