SAL Brooklyn girls volleyball preview: Engineers looking for someone to steer train

Brooklyn Tech's Diana Laham will be among the team's leading attackers with the graduation of Karolina Kowalska.

How does a team replace a setter who led it to back-to-back undefeated league seasons and a pair of quarterfinals berths? That’s the very same question Brooklyn Tech coach Rosanne D’Augusta is asking herself right now.

Margaret Kwateng was a four-year player and even one the Engineers’ leading attackers last year in a 6-2. This season, the setting job is still very much up for grabs. Amy Ye, Elizabeth Barshay and Jessica Mai are all in the mix.

“We’re still trying to figure out who’s going to set,” D’Augusta said.

Everything else, though, seems to be coming together. Brooklyn Tech also lost hitter Karolina Kowalska, but has returning firepower in outside hitter Diana Laham and 5-foot-11 middle Colette Littell, both of whom improved after a year playing with the Aviator club team.

Then there’s Ye, who is like a human Swiss Army knife.

“She’s so good,” D’Augustra said. “She can set, she can hit, she can play middle, she can play outside and she has very great defense.”

It’s just a matter of where she’ll play. Middle hitter Simone Sevilla will also see regular time and Larissa Ho looks like the team’s likely libero if Mai sets.

Though the Engineers are far from a finished product, they still should be at the top of PSAL Brooklyn A2 yet again. How far they go in the playoffs will have to do with who wins the setter job and how she fares.

“I want to try to make it back to the top 10,” said D’Augusta, whose team was seeded sixth last year. “That’s my goal. We might start off a little slow, but I’m hoping by October we’ll get it together. I’ve got some great talent.”

Secondary School of Law, Journalism and Research has more modest goals — like a trip back to the playoffs after a year off.

The Spirits were the story of the city two years ago when they beat powerhouse Midwood, shared the Brooklyn A3 division with the Hornets and advanced to the PSAL Class A second round, all in their first year as a varsity program. After a 4-6 season, coach Mike Salak thinks SSLJR is ready to return to the postseason.

“Last year was a rebuilding year,” he said. “I think we rebuilt.”

The team will be led by two “spectacular” players in 6-foot middle Dayna Scurry and steady setter/hitter Veroneque Ignace. Both are holdovers from that Cinderella run in 2008. Ignace is known for her leadership and Scurry for her physical tools.

“She was always tall and lanky,” Salak said. “But now she’s growing into her body.”

Ignace will run a 6-2 with Kerissa Ellis, so, as one of the team’s best attackers, she can hit more. Salak sees some similarities to the team from two years ago, but says this group is more experienced and has better setting.

“I feel like this is a playoff team,” he said. … “It just might take awhile to find out what the right lineup is.”

New Utrecht, which returns Jennifer Cheng and Gligiri Palloj, should also be in the mix in Brooklyn A3. Boys & Girls brings back Joan Powell, who was among the Brooklyn A2 leaders in kills and assists, and Franklin K. Lane, under new coach Sammy Han, should contend as well.

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