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’Dozo does it!

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Eric Barty knew what this felt like, and it upset him. He was having déjà vu.

His Cardozo boys’ volleyball team went to the PSAL Class A city championship game last year. The Judges won the first set against Midwood, but let the Hornets take Games 2 and 3 to win the city title. Back in the final last Thursday, Cardozo won the first set and took a 20-13 lead in the second before Grover Cleveland stormed back to tie it at 20.

“It was a scary feeling,” Barty said. “We felt like we were going to three again.”

But on the most important point of the game, it was someone who wasn’t on the team last year who made the biggest difference. With Cleveland triple-blocking him like it did most of the game, senior Randy Preval tipped a kill precisely into an open area on the opposite side of the court to break the tie.

“That was just straight instinct right there,” said Preval, a 6-foot-6 former basketball player. “I felt like it was a big point. It was time to lift my team up.”

Barty smashed an emphatic kill of his own three points later and libero Kevin Ha’s service ace gave Cardozo a 25-18, 25-21 victory and its first city championship since 1997 last Thursday at Hunter College.

“At that point, one point feels like 10 points,” coach Danny Scarola said of Preval’s kill. “There’s not a lot of room for error.”

Error? There was none of it for the Judges this season. They went undefeated and swept through the PSAL playoffs without losing a set.

Last week in practice, Scarola surprised his players with a visit from Young Kwon, who played on the 1997 championship team. The current Judges were awed.

“It was like Yogi Berra walking into Yankees’ spring training,” said the coach, who has taken four Cardozo boys’ teams to the city championship game and one girls’ squad.

Cardozo went on to beat last year’s nemesis Midwood, 25-18, 25-8, in the semifinals and was never really challenged against Cleveland until the end of the second set. Barty had a game-high 11 kills and senior setter Joe Park, recently named the Heisman Wingate award winner for boys’ volleyball, had 25 assists.

Senior Szymon Kolacz led Cleveland, which was seeded second, with nine kills and sophomore setter Piotr Borkowski had 12 assists.

“You sit there and wonder what that last point is gonna feel like,” Scarola said. “When I saw Kevin serving, I was like, ‘We’re winning this game right here, right now.’”

Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

Updated 6:58 pm, October 10, 2011
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