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Brooklyn volleyball novices shock Citywide tourneyn

Winning wasn’t exactly in the plans for Edith Koci and Elizabet Genis. The Brooklyn natives are relative volleyball novices who were just hoping to gain experience in the Parks Department’s Citywide Beach Volleyball tournament Saturday in Coney Island.

“We were expecting to win one game – maybe,” Koci said.

The duo, with less than a year of playing experience each, pulled off the highly improbable. They upset Nicole Zelek and Gail Sanders, both of whom play for Hunter College HS, in the girls’ juniors championship match to take home the title.

Koci is a rising junior at LaGuardia, but she has never played for the Athletics’ girls’ volleyball team. She plans to next season. Genis is an even more remarkable story. She’s heading into eighth grade next year at PS/IS 206. The pair just began playing on sand less than two weeks ago.

Genis and Koci practice volleyball twice a week at the Kings Bay Y on Nostrand Avenue. They are coached by, among others, George Cassius, the father of LaGuardia star Hannah Cassius, who won the PSAL Wingate Award this season for girls’ volleyball. He was like a proud father this weekend at Coney Island.

Cassius raved about Genis’ dedication to the sport despite having only played eight months. She’s hoping to play at Midwood after she graduates.

“She’s a fanatic,” he said. “She wants to learn more and more.”

Cassius has already told LaGuardia coach Artie Sterenbuch about Koci.

“He can’t wait,” Cassius said. She would probably be the best server in the entire PSAL. … She’s a good all-around player.”

For now though, they’re just relishing this victory. Koci showed up to the Citywide tournament Sunday wearing the Native Eyewear sunglasses she won the day before. The plaque she earned is already being displayed in her Brooklyn home.

“When we won, we called everybody, all our friends at the Y,” Koci said.

The two developed a rapport and a strong friendship over the course of the six months or so that they’ve known one another. Saturday was a particularly challenging day with strong winds gusting up and down the Coney Island beach.

Koci said they used the conditions to their advantage. Genis said the opposing players were shocked by the outcome.

“They were all like, it wasn’t fair,” she said. “We had [to deal with] the wind, too.”

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