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Midwood is usually Brooklyn’s volleyball king, but this was a banner year for the borough because of its depth.
No. 12 Brooklyn Tech advanced all the way to the PSAL semifinals, where it lost to eventual champion Cardozo. New Utrecht had one of its best seasons in years, going through the regular season undefeated, winning two tournaments and making a run to the quarterfinals. Xaverian made the CHSAA city championship game before falling to Regis. Even Sheepshead Bay, led by 6−foot−3 middle Nick Shenker, impressed.
No. 2 Midwood, though, was ousted in the second round of the playoffs by No. 18 Brandeis in one of the more shocking postseason results in recent memory. The Hornets still enjoyed a great regular season and had some of the best talent in the city.
VOLLEYBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
There wasn’t much Park didn’t do for Brooklyn Tech this spring. He carried the 12th−seeded Engineers on a Cinderella ride all the way into the PSAL semifinals, where they fell to eventual city champion Cardozo. Park was all over the court in the playoffs, getting every key kill, making all the big digs and pounding a block whenever needed. Though he was just a junior, there was no doubting he was Brooklyn Tech’s undisputed leader.
In the regular season, Park had 112 kills, 19 digs, 10 blocks and 35 aces in 12 matches as the Engineers went 12−0 in Brooklyn XII. He stepped it up further in the playoffs. Park had 52 kills, 25 digs and seven blocks in four matches. There were few players in the city more valuable to their team. With him returning, Brooklyn Tech should be a city title contender next season.
BROOKLYN BOYS’ VOLLEYBALL COACH OF THE YEAR
The Engineers went 12−0 in Brooklyn XII and won their first Seward Park tournament. Begley and her players felt they were a shoo−in for a top−six seed, at least. Instead, Brooklyn Tech was given No. 12. The players could have put their heads down, but she turned things around with three words: “We love 12.”
That became the Engineers’ credo throughout the playoffs and they advanced all the way to the PSAL semifinals before falling to eventual city champion Cardozo. Begley had a team mostly made up of juniors, none of whom had made it this far before. She leaned heavily on team leader Jonah Park and that’s also a testament to her coaching ability. It should come as no surprise from Begley, who was the first woman to guide a boys’ basketball team to Madison Square Garden (Murry Bergtraum in the 1992 ‘B’ final).
ALL−BROOKLYN FIRST TEAM
OH Mateusz Borek, Midwood
Borek is one of the most talented players in the city and can play all over the court. The senior doesn’t have a single weakness to his game. He isn’t a giant, but can jump out of the gym and hit with thunderous power. Borek doesn’t give up much on defense either. He’s athletic, unselfish and cerebral as well. Next year, he’ll play at Stevens Tech (N.J.), which went to the Division III national championship game.
MH Braien Otsla,
For a guy who hasn’t been playing volleyball for very long, Otsla burst onto the scene this season with New Utrecht, becoming one of the best middle hitters in the city. The senior was an absolute beast at the net, leading the Utes to the PSAL quarterfinals. Otsla had 103 kills, 19 blocks and 31 aces in 11 matches during the regular season. He also helped New Utrecht win two tournaments: at St. John’s University and the second Seward Park tourney.
S Jesse Paguaga,
Paguaga was the Clippers’ emotional leader, carrying them to the CHSAA city championship game, where they fell to Regis in four sets. He combined his athleticism with the knowledge of a coach’s son – his mother Cathy coached Xaverian this year and the Boys & Girls girls’ team in the past – to become one of the top setters in the city. He will attend the University of Southern California next year.
MH Nick Shenker, Sheepshead Bay
Shenker played sparingly last season for the Sharks, but he went to Stellar volleyball club over the winter and improved drastically. He already has the physical tools – he’s 6−feet−3 and incredibly long – to excel, he just needed to put it together. Shenker did just that for Sheepshead. He led the city in kills (140) and also had 17 blocks in 10 regular−season matches. The Sharks made the playoffs, but Shenker was ruled academically ineligible. They probably wouldn’t have beaten No. 1 Cardozo in the first round even with him, though.
MH Alex Shlivko,
The physically imposing Shlivko was a nightmare to see at the net for every opposing team. The well−built, 6−foot−4 senior was Midwood’s man in the middle, helping lead the Hornets to an undefeated league record before they were shockingly ousted by Brandeis in the second round. Shlivko had 57 kills, 35 digs and 26 blocks in 10 regular−season matches.
OH Qin Yu Zeng,
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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