The Bryant girls’ volleyball team walked into Forest Hills last Thursday as the second-place team in the Queens A North/East division and walked out with a share of the lead as it looks to regain its division title.
Behind a strong offense attack at the net led by seniors Sukhjit Kaur and Jasmina Hamza that struck early in sets, Bryant defeated Forest Hills in straight sets 25-12, 25-14 to improve to 7-1 on the season and pull into a tie for first place with two weeks left in the regular season.
“That was the main idea, to start out strong and let the other team catch up,” said Bryant Coach Mariusz Brinken. “The girls played well.”
Bryant was assertive offensively from the start, beginning the first set on a 9-3 run, which forced a Forest Hills (7-1) time out. Kaur recorded eight kills in the match for the Owls, becoming an overwhelming force up front that the Rangers had difficulty defending. The Rangers players were looking to show they were still the class of the division.
“We knew we were losing our coach’s trust over the last few games, so we knew we had to pick it up.” Kaur said, referring to a perceived lapse in her team’s play recently. “For this game, we wanted to be champions, so we started hitting as much as possible.”
Hamza and fellow senior Carmen Clavijo combined for six kills and were key down the stretch. Bryant used an 11-2 run late in the second set to seal the victory. Forest Hills won the first meeting in three sets.
“It feels competitive now,” Hamza said of the division. “We’re excited about it. It’s good, like I want to win.”
Forest Hills, now with its first loss of the season and competition that has pulled even at the top of the division, understands that the race for the title will not be easy, according to Coach Natalie Shimizu.
“We definitely knew what we were in for,” Shimizu said. “We’ve been seeing them for the last couple of games, so we were prepared for that.”
Much like Bryant’s reliance on its seniors, Forest Hills’ Imani Frances and Ariel Clarke led the way despite the loss, and their importance will not diminish down the stretch.
“That’s what I told my players,” Shimizu said. “I said we take this as our only loss. This is definitely a learning experience for them.”