Banner day: Seawolves win infant school’s first title

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The gym walls at Scholars Academy are rather bare. That’s to be expected for a high school that’s just four years old, which is why Athletic Director Joseph Lunati put the school’s girls’ volleyball team in charge of a little redecorating.

“Our athletic director was joking with us the last few weeks,” coach Kerri Hubbard said. “He said, ‘We want that banner for our gym because we have no banners.’ We only have six varsity teams in our school.”

Lunati will surely like what the Seawolves have done to the place. No. 3 Scholars Academy defeated rival and No. 4 Campus Magnet 25-11, 25-19 in the PSAL Class B girls’ volleyball championship Nov. 23 at Townsend Harris to give the Rockaway school its first-ever championship.

“It’s pretty amazing,” junior Nicole Glaz said. “It’s a big step for us.”

Scholars Academy (15-1) will graduate its first senior class this season, but there’s nothing new about the Seawolves team. Hubbard’s sister Tricia started the program at the middle-school level — the school is sixth- through 12th-grade — back in 2005. Hubbard came aboard a year later when the current seniors were in eighth-grade.

Hubbard’s group was a developmental team as freshmen, then a junior varsity team as sophomores. Last year in its first varsity season Scholars made it all the way to the semis. Now the Seawolves are champions.

“I can’t believe it,” Hubbard said. “I feel like I’m dreaming.”

Glaz’s serving got Scholars Academy off to a 10-0 lead in the first set. But Campus Magnet (14-2) fought back in the second, taking a 14-10 lead on a kill by Andrea Bridglal. Junior defensive specialist Shannon Toomey ended up being the second-set hero for the Seawolves. Her 7-0 service run gave them an 18-14 lead and they didn’t look back.

“That was very big for us,” Glaz said. “If we go down by a couple, our whole team comes down. Once Toomey started serving it, our whole team did not even hesitate to come back up.”

Since being swept by Campus Magnet Sept. 28, Scholars has not lost a PSAL match. Though it was so early in the season, it served as somewhat of a turning point for the Seawolves.

“We weren’t playing as a team,” Hubbard said. “We had a lot of new girls to the team. We didn’t lose anyone last year, but we took on a lot of new girls this year. Everyone was readjusting to new people and things and when we lost to them, we weren’t playing as a team, we were playing more like individuals.”

That was bad for a team built on strong defense and good passing. But Scholars turned it and its season around.

Last year, people would ask the Seawolves where their school was. Even this year at tournaments, other coaches and players admitted to never hearing of the tiny school on Rockaway Boulevard across from Beach Channel High School. On Nov. 23, for example, PA announcer Alan Zarrow initially announced them by mistake as Goldstein High School, the top seed that fell to Campus Magnet in the semis.

But toting their gold medals and the PSAL banner, the Seawolves have definitely put themselves on the map.

“I think everyone is going to know where Scholars Academy is now,” Hubbard said.

Updated 6:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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