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This was the match Cardozo had been looking forward to for a year — for five years, really.
The Judges might have won the PSAL Class A volleyball city title in 2010, but they lost twice to rival Francis Lewis in the regular season and never got to see the Patriots in the playoffs because they fell to Susan Wagner in the semifinals.
All the anxiety came to a head Sept. 21.
“I was freaking out all through the day,” Cardozo libero Amy Sung said. “I was in class tapping my pen. I couldn’t focus.”
Cardozo was actually the picture of poise in a nearly flawless first set of an eventual 25-10, 27-25 win over Lewis in PSAL Queens A6 girls’ volleyball in Oakland Gardens. It was the Judges’ first victory over the Patriots since November 2006 and also the first league loss for Lewis since then. Lewis also beat Dozo in the city championship match in 2007 and 2009.
“Finally,” Cardozo star outside hitter Ashley Grubler said. “I haven’t beaten them in three years. I wanted to beat them. I’m glad I got that out of the way. That was a big weight on my shoulders.”
The Judges looked like a team that had not beaten their biggest rival in five years in the first set. It was a dominant performance. Cardozo Coach Danny Scarola said he doesn’t think his team has ever held Lewis (0-1) to just 10 points in a set.
“We came out motivated,” Scarola said. “It was probably one of our cleanest sets in a long time. We didn’t make any service errors. Most of the balls we hit were in. We just passed very well. There was a great focus on the court in that first game.”
Cardozo (2-0) wasn’t nearly as smooth in the second set. Lewis passed much better and actually came back from a 24-22 deficit to earn a 25-24 lead on a Naya Harris block. But then Grubler took over with two straight kills and the Judges won the match on an attack error — one of many for the Patriots.
“I guess I have to sweat through one of them at least,” Scarola said with a laugh.
Grubler didn’t have her best performance, but she finished with seven kills, including the two biggest of the game. Adriana Braciak had six kills and five digs, Jessica Lou had 13 assists and Sung added 10 digs. Jeanette Santiago had four blocks, including two booming ones when Lewis seemed to be building a little momentum in the first set.
“They played well, we didn’t,” said Lewis Coach Arnie Rosenbaum, who has guided the program to five PSAL city titles. “We didn’t pass the first game.”
It was early for a match of this magnitude. Both teams are expected to be near the top of the PSAL by the end of the season, as they usually are. The next meeting is Oct. 17 and Cardozo expects a war and a much-improved Francis Lewis team.
But for now the Judges will enjoy their victory, one they wished had come last year to complete a magical season.
“It was too bad it took that long,” Scarola said with a laugh. “We’re always two of the better programs in the city. When you have it in your division, it’s always nice to beat a team like that in your division.”
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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