Cardozo volleyball title streak snapped

Photo by Chris Barca
By Chris Barca

Benjamin Cardozo’s two-year reign atop PSAL girls’ volleyball is over.

Its hold on the Class A city championship ended with a 25-15, 25-23 defeat to No. 2-seeded Bronx Science in the semifinals at CCNY Sunday afternoon. Even though this season ended unlike the previous two campaigns, Coach Danny Scarola and his young team decided to celebrate their year with laughs and smiles instead of tears.

“I’m proud of these girls,” he said. “We lost eight seniors last year and it says great things about them that they were able to get back to the final four again the next year.”

No. 3 Cardozo lost in straight sets, but the match was much closer than the scoreboard indicated. They led favored Bronx Science in the early part of the first set after a blistering start, but they couldn’t maintain the early energy. Two different runs of five straight points by Bronx Science put Cardozo’s championship hopes on the brink in the second set.

The Judges (10-2) were able to hang with Bronx Science (13-0) for the majority of the second set and even found themselves down 23-22 toward the end. Two Bronx Science points later and the season had ended in defeat. Scarola felt mistakes hurt his club.

“They had some great blocks late, and we had 10 service errors. We don’t normally have 10 service errors in a week,” he said. “But we got better and better with each game, these girls will be great next year.”

Part of the reason for Scarola’s optimism is the play of freshman phenom Alexis Hamilton. The tall California native had a team-leading eight kills and seemed to deliver a clutch kill whenever her team needed her, too. Scarola believes the sky is the limit for her. Hamilton, all smiles despite a tough loss, viewed her freshman season as one filled with tremendous success.

“This year was definitely interesting and really fun,” she said. “It was great to get to the semifinals and I’m very happy with our year. If I have fun, then I play well and the same goes for this team.”

Departing for Cardozo are six seniors, but with returning stars such as Hamilton and junior setter Zhan Cheng Yin, the Judges should be right back in the championship mix next season.

“We’re going to be way stronger, definitely,” Hamilton said. “We can win it all next year, I don’t see why not.”

More from Around New York