O’Shane McRae says he’s missed church on a Saturday about three times that he can recall. The Brooklyn Tech junior middle hitter and native of the island of Jamaica is a Seventh−day Adventist, a Christian denomination that observes on Saturdays.
But when he learned his Engineers boys’ volleyball team would be playing in the first round of the PSAL playoffs on a Saturday, he knew what he had to do.
“It was the playoffs,” McRae said. “We worked very hard during the year. I wouldn’t let my teammates down.”
He certainly didn’t.
McRae had six kills to help lead No. 12 Brooklyn Tech to a 25−22, 25−20 win over No. 44 DeWitt Clinton at York College. When the Engineers played in tournaments on Saturdays during the regular season, they didn’t have the services of McRae. Last year, the 6−foot−6 middle didn’t see regularly playing time and didn’t play in Tech’s two playoff matches.
“This was almost a baptism for him,” Brooklyn Tech coach Noreen Begley said.
Luckily, the Engineers had the leadership of senior Jonah Park to counteract any inexperience. The outside hitter, who has to move to middle if McRae is absent, had nine kills, eight digs and provided his usual support system for teammates.
“A leader needs to be good on the court and off the court,” McRae said. “He sets the tone for all of us.”
Yevgeniy Reminnik had 17 assists, Timmy Yan had seven digs and Max Laskowski had four blocks.
Brooklyn Tech certainly wasn’t expecting a No. 12 seed, though. The Engineers finished 12−0 and atop PSAL Brooklyn XII. It was a weak division, but they also won the first Seward Park tournament and performed well in other tourneys, sometimes without McRae.
“We won a tournament and we beat [No. 5] Bayside and [No. 10] Seward Park,” Park said. “That’s ridiculous.”
There’s a chance for revenge and to prove a point in the second round. Brooklyn Tech met Bayside on Tuesday at Hunter College (Editor’s note: game results came in after press deadline).
“No matter where they put us, you have to play the best and beat the best,” Begley said.
So, the coach told her players to embrace the low seed. She said if the Engineers end up winning the PSAL city title, she’ll get all of her players shirts with the No. 12 on them.
“No one gave us any respect,” Begley said.
But, at the very least, Brooklyn Tech will get a chance to earn it on the court. The Engineers are using it all for motivation.