NYPost.com boys volleyball beat writer Marc Raimondi breaks down the PSAL quarterfinals, set for Saturday at York College.
11 a.m. – No. 1 Academy of American Studies vs. No. 8 Hunter College HS
12:30 p.m. – No. 4 Cardozo vs. No. 5 Bryant
2 p.m. – No. 3 New Utrecht vs. No. 6 Brooklyn Tech
3:30 p.m. – No. 2 Bronx Science vs. No. 7 McKee/Staten Island Tech
No. 1 Academy of American Studies Eagles
Player to watch: Piotr Kasza
No. 8 Hunter College HS Hitmen
Head coach: Jason Dibelius
Player to watch: Kadeem Nibbs
Bryant's Godwin Sequeira will try to help the Owls topple Cardozo in the quarterfinals on Saturday at York College.
Outlook: Hunter was also Academy of American Studies’ opponent in last year’s quarterfinals. This time, though, the Eagles are the top seed and the odds-on favorite to win their first PSAL city title. Michal Kasza is the most dynamic outside hitter in the city, younger brother Piotr Kasza is one of the area's best setters and Conrad Zajkowski provides size and skill in the middle. It’ll take a lot for Academy to be beaten this season.
Hunter might just have the versatility to do it. Kadeem Nibbs can neutralize just about any hitter in the middle with his 6-foot-8 frame and he has improved in every area of the game. Peter Mason is a solid setter and the Hitmen have youthful exuberance on their side – 11 sophomores and just three seniors. Regardless of the outcome, Hunter will be a team to watch in the future.
No. 4 Cardozo Judges
Head coach: Danny Scarola
Player to watch: Tyler Gaugler
No. 5 Bryant Owls
Head coach: Steve Hagenlocher
Player to watch: Godwin Sequeira
Outlook: This will be a meeting of the two teams that have won the last four PSAL city titles and one of them will go home early. Cardozo is the favorite in this match with athletic outside hitters Tyler Gaugler and Isaac Hwang leading a dynamic offense. As is the case with any team coached by Danny Scarola, though, defense and passing is a major strength and will likely be the key here.
Bryant actually has the best ball control player in the match in Godwin Sequeira, a setter who has made the transition from libero. He’s one of the best in the city at what he does. The Owls have gotten a lot this season out of Kemal Loppies, but it has been hard to produce the power arm of graduated Troy Gaugler, Tyler’s older brother.
No. 3 New Utrecht Utes
Head coach: Jennifer Lopez
Player to watch: Ming Ho Zhen
No. 6 Brooklyn Tech Engineers
Head coach: Noreen Begley
Player to watch: Dukhyun Ko
Outlook: It’ll be an all-Brooklyn matchup Saturday between two of these top teams. New Utrecht is coming off a big revenge win over Newcomers, the squad that beat the Utes two weeks ago in the Seward Park tournament championship match. With that obstacle out of the way, New Utrecht, led by libero Ming Ho Zhen and versatile hitters Kwok Tang Wong and Qing Ze Jiang, is ready to make a run at a PSAL title.
Brooklyn Tech will be trying to reach its second PSAL semifinals in the last three years. Both of those teams had different players leading the way and so does this one. Senior outside hitter Dukhyun Ko and setter Ariel Velasquez Evers have been a revelation for coach Noreen Begley. The Engineers are also sound defensively, which they will have to be against potent New Utrecht.
No. 2 Bronx Science Wolverines
Head coach: Jeremy BasSie
Player to watch: Alex Barbulescu
No. 7 McKee/Staten Island Tech
Head coach: Dave Mahon
Player to watch: Yo Sep Bak
Outlook: Bronx Science was in the title match two years ago only to be ousted last year in the second round. The Wolverines are back among the city’s elite now and with middle hitter Alex Barbulescu back from an ankle injury, they will be a tough out. Jerry Henriquez is one of the best setters in the league and Preet Singh really stepped up in the middle while Barbulescu was out.
In order to advance back to the semis, Science will have to topple one of the PSAL’s premier programs in MSIT. The Seagulls perennially get this far and beyond and are looking to get back to the semis, which they missed last year, falling to New Utrecht in this round. Yo Sep Bak is the team’s top hitter, but ball control and defense are staples of any team coached by Dave Mahon. Senior Calvin Liu is integral to its success.
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