JFK sets sights on semifinals

The Kennedy girls’ volleyball team after its win against Cleveland. Photo by Philip Hall/Five Boro Sports

The John F. Kennedy girls’ volleyball team doesn’t have a standout player. That’s fine by coach Iris Bromfield. In fact, it’s by design.

“I’ve never had a star player,” she said. “I’ve always had five or six players that can play. If somebody is off, everybody else is on.”

It was Sharon Ofori’s turn Tuesday night to lift the Knights. The junior middle hitter had six blocks and five kills to lead No. 2 JFK to a dominant, 25-6, 25-15 win against No. 10 Grover Cleveland in the PSAL Class A quarterfinals at Hunter College in Manhattan.

Senior Elsie Almiron had 11 kills and five digs and Melissa Saunders had four blocks. The multitude of weapons makes life easier for junior setter Paola Piroli, who doesn’t have to keep setting the same players over and over.

“I just have to feed someone and they’ll hit it down and make a kill,” she said.

The hitters also serve as support for Piroli, who is in her first full season as starting setter. Bromfield said she gets nervous at times and can become unsettled. Luckily, Kennedy has fine defense and passing – yet another thing that helps out Piroli.

“They didn’t let her break down (against Cleveland),” Bromfield said.

Kennedy (14-0) was fast and efficient against the Tigers, much like it was in the second round versus LaGuardia.

MSIT is making its first girls’ volleyball semifinal appearance, but Bromfield and Tech coach David Mahon have done battle for decades on the boys’ side.

MSIT will be the upstart, while Kennedy is the perennial powerhouse: the Knights are looking for their fourth PSAL city title since 2002. They’ve done well, oddly, in the even years, winning titles in 2002, 2004 and 2006.

JFK and Tech have played five times this season – all in weekend tournaments – and Kennedy has won each time. But while the Knights players are confident, they do fear that the Sea Gulls know them very well.

“I think they have an advantage,” Almiron said.

As for Cleveland (13-2), which beat Bard and Franklin K. Lane to get here, the Tigers were on a 13-match PSAL winning streak after losing its season opener to Long Island City. Coach Daniel Lin’s team played better in the second set, but couldn’t contend with Kennedy’s relentless defense.

Senior setter Miryam Candela had six assists and 16 digs, senior outside hitter Joanna Kaminska had five digs and three kills, senior Roxy Filipchak had six digs, four kills and two blocks and senior Angelina Palma had six digs for the Tigers.

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