By Joseph Staszewski
The health status of Information Technology star hitter Mateusz Szumilo for the championship match was uncertain even minutes from the start.
The senior partially tore his right bicep at a tournament six weeks ago and hasn’t been 100 percent since. Szumilo reinjured it in a PSAL boys’ volleyball semifinal victory over Newcomers the week before the final at York College and was planning on not taking the court in the championship match. He said his teammates kept asking him in school what he was going to do.
“I didn’t know,” Szumilo said. “I was giving ambiguous answers.”
His father gave the bicep a massage and Szumilo realized he was ready to play after arriving at York College May 28 to play in the final. Szumilo said it hurt, but he still turned in a dominant performance at the net to lead No. 4 Info Tech to a 25-18, 20-25, 25-15 win over No. 3 Taft for the Long Island City school’s first crown.
“I didn’t know if he was going to be able to go today, and he just didn’t want to come out,” Info Tech Coach Geoffe Serrano said.
Szumilo, who has played two years of club volleyball, was in the middle of a 14-2 run by the Info Tech Blackhawks (10-2) during the third set that was propelled by the tremendous energy coming from their large contingent of fans. He had a block and a kill in the early stages to help his team build momentum and went on an 8-0 service run to put Info Tech up 22-11.
Szumilo also dominated midway through the second set with five kills and a block to help cut the Taft lead to 14-13 before watching the Taft Golden Eagles (13-1) grab control of the frame.
“The third set we were just happy and hyped,” he said of the deciding set.
He got plenty of help, especially from long and lanky junior Kevin Campbell, who is in his first season playing volleyball. Serrano called his development “frustrating” because Campbell’s hand-eye coordination had needed work and he still needed to learn all the skills.
But the final was “sweet” for Serrano to watch. Campbell looked like a veteran as a blocker and a hitter against the shorter Taft. He had three kills during the decisive third set run and put his team within a point of the championship later in the frame.
“Coach said a lot of practice will make me better,” Campbell said.
Setter Tenzin Lhektso, libero Kevin Leyva and senior Aldwyn Ador also turned in strong performances. The Blackhawks were fueled all season by the PSAL’s decision to move them to lower ‘B’ after a 3-7 season in the “A” and the Queens I division, which includes defending city champion Academy of American Studies.
“Our goal was to do really well because we didn’t deserve to be in the ‘B’ division,” Szumilo said. “That was our goal all the way from the start.”