Noreen Begley has a motto for each of her Brooklyn Tech boys volleyball teams. This year’s saying fits the Engineers to a tee.
“Our motto this year was its not where we start, it’s where we finish,” she said.
Brooklyn Tech started the season with a demoralizing loss to New Utrecht in a scrimmage – one of three loses to the Utes – but will end its season on the PSAL’s championship court at Hunter College after a thrilling, 25-22, 25-23 win over the Utes in the quarterfinals at York College Saturday afternoon.
“I didn’t sleep that good last night thinking about this game,” Begley said. “But I had faith in my guys and all I asked them was to come and play.”
Sixth-seeded Brooklyn Tech (15-0) advances to the semifinals for the third time in four years and will take on Bronx Science Tuesday night at Hunter College. The Wolverines defeated McKee/Staten Island Tech in another quarterfinal Saturday.
“We always start a little slow, but at the end we always end up in the quarterfinals and the semifinals,” senior Dukhyun Ko said. “What we do in practice shows up in the game.”
But oh that start.
“We had no blocking and we almost had a couple of bloody noses,” Begley said of the first scrimmage.
In fact, the Engineers didn’t win one set in three meetings with New Utrecht this year. Ko thinks that worked in his team’s favor.
“We expected them to take us a little lightly because they beat us three times,” he said. “But we came to play and we came to get revenge on them. We didn’t want to end our season here. We wanted to keep going.”
The outside hitter made sure of it with 10 kills and seven digs. Adonijah Smith had seven kills, Ariel Velasquez had 18 assists and three blocks, David Lopez had nine digs and Shyne Mon had five blocks and one very big kill.
“To come back and actually win this game when it really counts was amazing,” Mon said.
Begley credits volunteer assistant Eli Strauss with helping develop new middles Smith, an import from the football team, and Mon, who is just a freshman.
“We would not be here without his help,” she said.
Brooklyn Tech took the opening set 25-22 and led 23-21 in the second. Third-seeded New Utrecht (12-1) pulled within 23-22 on an ace by Quan Hui Chen, prompting Begley to call a timeout.
“Trust me, I did not want to go to a third game,” Begley said. “I called that timeout just to regroup us, call two plays that we needed to go to and they ran them perfectly.”
Mon closed out the match with that aforementioned kill.
“There was no one around me and I didn’t want to be a coward and move away,” he said. “I just took that shot and I was praying that it would go in.”
It did and when the ball deflected off Chen and out, it set off a wild celebration for the Engineers.
“When it finally hit the floor, I was just jumping, super happy and super thankful,” Mon said.
He wasn’t the only one.
“They had desire, passion and they work very hard as a team,” Begley said. “When you have those things, you’re in every game. I’m very proud of them.”
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