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Kennedy sweeps LaGuardia

If coach Iris Bromfield had her way, her John F. Kennedy girls’ volleyball team would be more like bug spray.

“The other team is the roaches,” senior outside hitter Mariely Hernandez said Bromfield jokes, “and we’re the Raid.”

The Knights did some exterminating Sunday in the second round of the PSAL Class A playoffs. No. 2 Kennedy knocked off No. 15 LaGuardia, 25-12, 25-18, at Hunter College in Manhattan. In the quarterfinals Tuesday at Hunter, JFK (13-0) will face No. 10 Grover Cleveland, which beat No. 26 Franklin K. Lane in the second round.

Senior Elsie Almiron had nine kills, senior Ingrid Belliard had nine digs and six kills, senior Lisbeth Rodriguez had 15 digs, senior Paola Piroli had 26 assists and Hernandez had seven digs, six kills and three service aces for the Knights.

“We want this,” Rodriguez said. “We can’t let anybody come between us and that championship.”

Bromfield believes her team is being overlooked because of the talent top seed Francis Lewis has. But Kennedy is almost impossible to underestimate – especially with city championships in 2002, 2004 and 2006 on its record. Bromfield has six girls’ volleyball PSAL titles in total.

“I can’t look that far,” the coach said of a potential finals meeting with Lewis. “I have to look at the next game.”

LaGuardia (11-3) had a hard time coming out in the first set and Kennedy never let the Athletics get back in the match. Senior Hannah Cassius, a nominee for the PSAL Heisman Wingate award, had three assists and three digs for LaGuardia.

“We played so tight,” coach Arthur Sterenbuch said.

In a tournament where small, scrappy teams have been incredibly successful, Kennedy has been the king of that style of play for a long time. The Knights are more traditional than No. 24 Columbus, which is in the quarterfinals after two straight upsets, and No. 26 Franklin K. Lane, which beat No. 7 Lehman in the first round. But Bromfield has always preached defense and fundamentals foremost.

“As a coach, if you don’t practice to beat scrappy teams, you don’t go nowhere,” she said. … “In practice, I work on defense for two hours.”

If there is a team that can knock off Francis Lewis, it could be one with outstanding defense. The Kennedy players have already let it be known which team they want to face in the championship – if JFK gets that far.

“Everybody is like, ‘Oh, Francis Lewis is so good,’” Almiron said. “We want to prove everybody wrong.”

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