Hoffman leads Molloy into B/Q final
There is no smaller player on the volleyball court than Jenna Hoffman, a 4-foot-11 sprite of a libero.
But no one came up bigger than the Archbishop Molloy senior in the Stanners 25-13, 25-19, 17-25, 25-21 win against Fontbonne Hall in the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan semifinals Thursday night in Briarwood.
Hoffman, who is arguably pound for pound the city’s best volleyball player, made a remarkable diving stab in the fourth set that went from a dig to a kill, sending the crowd to its feet and the Stanners to the Brooklyn/Queens final Wednesday against the winner of Friday’s semifinal between St. Francis Prep and The Mary Louis Academy.
“That just shows you never give up,” junior Maddie Casello said. “Even if you think you’re not going to get it, throw yourself on the floor and make it happen and Jenna always does that.”
Hoffman had 20 digs and three aces. However she’ll be remembered for the lunging one-handed kill that not only showcased her individual brilliance, but also epitomized the Stanners selfless play.
“Tori was the one that pancaked it, then it was [Katherine Kilkenny] and then it was Jenna,” Molloy assistant coach Rose DeInnocentiis Ruesing said. “That symbolized everything we’ve been talking about this year with it being a team effort, a cohesive effort. If you look at the back of their sweatshirts, ‘One team, one dream,’ and that’s really what it is.”
That stunning play might showcase why Hoffman is a special player, but another reason why Molloy (10-2) is in the Brooklyn/Queens final is the multitude of powerful hitters the Stanners showcase with Casello, who had 15 kills, leading the way.
Hoffman knows all too well what it means to feel the brunt of a Casello kill.
“If I’m not standing right in front of the ball [at practice], it’s going to sting,” Hoffman said of Casello’s power. “She’s a power hitter.”
Casello is joined by Kilkenny (three aces), Emily Rabot (four aces), Lauren Pagan and Mareena Thottam in what could be called the city’s best collection of hitters.
“We’re a really strong offensive team,” Casello said. “Jenna throws herself on the floor and plays her defense and our job as hitters is to kill the ball. Once we put it all together, it’s like a puzzle.”
The Stanners, ranked No. 2 in New York City by MSG Varsity, opened the match on an 11-1 run, winning six straight points on Amanda Price’s serve, en route to a 25-13 win. Price had 25 assists, 13 digs and three aces.
Rabot’s back-to-back late aces helped the Stanners take the second set, 25-19. Six straight points on Lauren Ganun’s serve helped No. 6 Fontbonne Hall (6-5) take control of the third set, which the Bonnies took 25-17.
Fontbonne, which lost a pair of five-set matches during the regular season to the Stanners, pulled within 12-10 in the fourth set when Hoffman’s spectacular kill sparked the Stanners, who would love to meet rival St. Francis Prep for a fourth time in Wednesday.
The teams split a pair of five-set thrillers in the regular season, with Molloy snapping the Terriers six-year league unbeaten streak. However, St. Francis Prep bounced back to take a tiebreaker in three sets on Friday.
“We’re so determined, we want to win so badly,” Hoffman said. “After the tiebreaker at Prep, we felt we were kind dead that game. We’re angry and have a lot of determination to get back out there and we want to win the championship really bad.”
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