As if the Bronx Science girls volleyball team wasn’t menacing enough already, what with its 74-game, regular-season winning streak the past six-plus seasons. Now head coach Dan Skilins has taken to unleashing his second unit on an already intimidated Public School Athletic League.
And with predictable results.
So while Wolverine regulars Darya Lollos, Anya Lollos and Grace Lorch took in Science’s second set versus Roosevelt from the sidelines, Science’s “B” team — the understudies, the replacements, whatever you want to call them — simply went out and took care of business as the Wolverines cruised to a 25-7, 25-16 win over the Rough Riders to extend their winning streak to 75 straight.
It’s a streak, by the way, that comes without even a single lost set.
“We’re going to try to go with some different rotations and mixed teams,” Skilins said. “We’re still looking at what’s a good lineup that gives us energy, scores points, and plays well together.”
There was a lot of all of the above in the first set as Anya Lollos (10 aces, five kills), Lorch (eight assists, four service points), Darya Lollos (three service points, two kills, two digs) and Josephine Kinlan (five service points, two aces) dominated an overmatched Roosevelt team.
So with the Wolverines halfway home to their third win of the season, Skilins went to his bench. His mantra for this season is “play everybody,” a plan designed to get his non-starters more playing time, and in turn, making the Wolverines an even deeper and more dangerous team.
So in came Jess Muller, Diana Campbell and Carolina Hohl to take control of the second set. And after some early stumbles, the not-ready-for-prime-time Wolverines looked, well, ready for prime time.
Roosevelt jumped out to an initial 9-4 lead, and that unlikely Science deficit led to a strategy conference between Skilins and his co-captain.
“Darya and I were discussing a timeout, and I said no,” Skilins said. “There is a difference between pressure and chaos. I don’t think we feel chaos. I thought there was a little pressure there, but I wanted to see how they responded to that pressure.
“So did they come together and work it out? They sure did.”
Before long, the Wolverines strung together a 13-2 spurt that turned their 9-4 deficit into a 17-11 advantage with Muller, Campbell and Hohl playing major roles in the run. Muller finished with eight assists, Campbell had three blocks and four kills, and Hohl added a block and two kills as Science cruised after its early struggles.
“I knew they’d figure it out,” Skilins said. “Their volleyball IQ is high enough that they’d figure it out. But I really liked Diana. I thought she played really well. I thought Carolina played well in the middle, and I liked Jess a lot. She came out a little rusty, but made some adjustments. And then I thought she finished very strong.”
Skilins didn’t save all of his rave reviews or his backups, however.
“I thought Anya played lights out,” he said. “I really liked her intelligence. She’s working on being smart and playing full power, but controlled power. She has a lot of power and a lot of ability, but you have to control that ability.”
For Anya Lollos, it was a little strange being a spectator in the second set. But she knows more experience for the backups will reap rewards for the Wolverines later in the season and postseason.
“We know this year our aim is to win, but also make sure everyone gets playing time,” Anya Lollos said. “We are a young team, and everyone is working hard to improve. So it was a little bit weird not being in there because, in the second set, you want to end stronger. But I think our secondary team is getting a lot stronger, and it’s really helpful for our team chemistry to have everyone play.”
The chemistry got better still last Friday when Science’s streak reached 76 after a 25-11, 25-10 victory over Kennedy. The Lollos sisters combined for 15 service points and 11 kills. while Lorch added 11 assists and Kinlan slammed six kills. Campbell (two blocks, four kills) and Muller (four service points, five assists) contributed as well as Skilins’ master plan continues to produce positive results.
“We haven’t won the championship, but every year we’re talking about it,” Skilins said. “But this year we’re talking about it a little it more seriously because of the quality of players we have and their commitment level.
“I like our chances this year. Our starters are legit.”
And so now is Science’s “B” team.