PSAL Bronx Girls’ Volleyball preview: many contenders

Gina Meltzer was a four-year starter and led the Bronx Science girls volleyball team to three straight PSAL Class A quarterfinal appearances. The 5-foot-9 outside hitter was one of the best players in the league.

But the Wolverines are going to have to move on without her in 2009.

“Nobody is as good as Gina, but we’re pretty well balanced,” Bronx Science coach Jeremy Bass said. “We’re different from last year when we all worshiped Gina.”

There’s no hero worship going on this season, nor is there a go-to player. But Bass is happy with the group he has and how it’s coming together. Juliana Kwan will be a major factor at setter and outside hitter in Bronx Science’s 6-2 rotation and Liza Park, though lacking in height, will be a more-than-adequate middle hitter.

“I know it’s cliché, but everyone’s gotta step up,” Bass said.

Anastasia Shor will play on the right side and Rachel Ng, who took over as the team’s setter last year, will be in that role and play outside hitter, combining with Kwan. The personnel has changed – especially in terms of a star player, but the Wolverines are striving for the same thing. Bronx Science finished third in PSAL Bronx A1 with a 7-5 record and were upset in the first round of the playoffs.

“Our goals are going to be as high as they were last year – 10 wins or more,” Bass said.

Of course, certain things are going to need to fall into place for that to happen.

“Since we’re not going to be overpowering, we have to play fundamental volleyball,” Bass said.

Bronx Science figures to be in the division mix with perennial favorite John F. Kennedy, Columbus and Lehman. Columbus became one of the stories of the season when it upset Hunter College HS in the PSAL Class A first round and marched all the way to the quarterfinals where it fell to eventual city champion Francis Lewis.

The Explorers’ run solidified the Bronx as one of the toughest divisions in New York City. Columbus lost plenty from that team – Rafaela Mascarin and Elizabeth Mirashi, most notably – but bring back setter Pashke Gjini and Lucia Garcia.

Lehman was upended early in the playoffs, like Bronx Science, but the Lions, who finished second in the division behind Kennedy, can never be counted out. Coach Edyeli Mata’s team will have to deal with the losses of Shari Quiles, who is playing at SUNY Old Westbury, and Maria Loor, on the roster at Queens College, if it wants to make the playoffs yet again.

Clinton could be a sleeper team. Coach Andrea Milsome guided her Walton boys volleyball team to unprecedented success in the spring and the Governors return Sarah Smith, a 6-foot middle who is also the school’s star basketball player.

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