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Young Cardozo gets ready

Adriana Braciak will lead a young and inexperienced Cardozo club. Photo by Denis Gostev
TimesLedger Newspapers

Cardozo might be the two-time defending girls’ volleyball champion in the PSAL, but a younger roster and tough competition will make chances at a three-peat more difficult for Coach Daniel Scarola and the Judges this season.

“Last year, we wanted to say, ‘You can’t be complacent, people are going to come for us because we’re the defending champions,’” Scarola said. “With this year’s team, it’s looking [like that] to some people who were on the team, but not necessarily out there on the court. You were ready to get out there and you wanted to get out there. Now is your chance.”

The Judges have lost star Ashley Grubler to graduation, creating not only a leadership space to fill, but on-court production to make up for, as well. For Cardozo, Scarola is looking for a group effort, multiple players to step up to bear the weight of her absence.

“I have a lot of juniors in the lineup with a couple seniors and a freshman,” Scarola said. “We’re spreading the ball around instead of looking to [Grubler] as the main option. This year, it’s go to Adriana [Braciak] and to [outside hitter] Cassidy Chen.”

Braciak, a senior outside hitter, is among those who have expressed a willingness to step into the void left by Grubler’s graduation.

“It’s going to be a fight to the finish and we have a big target on our back,” she said. “We’re all ready to play a position and get ready to win. A lot of the people have stepped up and taken on leadership roles, but we’re going to have to work hard.”

Added Chen, a co-captain, “I think since many are new players, we’re looking to come together and play as a team. We have all stepped up and each of us brings something to the table. I hope it reflects on the court.”

Among the new players is freshman Alexis Hamilton, who should take on a contributing role for Cardozo this season. Returning right side Jessica Yin will also contribute.

“She’s pretty good where she has some experience,” Scarola said. “She knows the game. It’s almost like when teams bring up the rookie. I’m not asking her for too much. That’s all I’m really looking for.”

But for Scarola and Cardozo in 2012, it comes down to basics, the coach said.

“Just basically to go out there and do all the fundamentals really well. Just get our passing and serving down,” he said. “We’ve had a couple girls hone their skills off the bench. You don’t have to look at the two championships. We’re just going to compete.”

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