Hector lifts Banneker to final one day after car accident

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Angelica Hector almost never made it to Hunter College on Thursday night.

She and Janay Bondswell, her teammate on the Benjamin Banneker girls’ volleyball team, were hit by a car as they were crossing the street after leaving practice Wednesday night. They were walking another teammate to a nearby bus stop because they didn’t want her to walk alone in the dark.

Luckily, it wasn’t serious. The girls jumped out of the way, but were struck by the car’s side mirror. Bondswell sprained her ankle in the fall and Hector was essentially unscathed, though both were rushed to the hospital.

“It could have been real serious,” Banneker coach Wendell Saunders said. “God was looking down on them.”

With Bondswell, the team’s star player, out, it was Hector’s time to step up. She had five kills and three service aces to lead No. 3 Banneker to a 25-20, 25-18 win against No. 7 Manhattan Center in the PSAL Class B girls’ volleyball semifinals.

“In the playoffs, she wasn’t serving the ball well, but she did [Thursday] night,” Saunders said of Hector. “She wasn’t spiking the ball well, but she did [Thursday] night. Knowing Janay wasn’t there, she had to step up.”

Kristin Kenner had 10 assists and Noelle Nesbitt and Regina Alexander had three kills each for the Warriors (15-0), who won Brooklyn 3-B this season. It’s the first time ever Banneker has made it to a volleyball championship. It will play No. 1 Franklin D. Roosevelt on Saturday at York College.

“We’ve got another game to prove we’re the best in the ‘B’ division,” Saunders said.

The Warriors have thought that all season, though. For two seasons, Saunders has sought help from Adeola Olarewaju, a professional women’s basketball player in Turkey who played volleyball at Bishop Loughlin HS. When Olarewaju left in the middle of October to go back overseas, Kernin and Bronzewell felt confident enough to assist coaching the team themselves. Saunders, who also coaches boys’ basketball at Banneker, took no issue.

“They actually wanted to run the practices,” he said. “And they did that. I wanted the girls to look at them and respect them as captains.”

That leadership has been complemented by fine talent. Bondswell, Hector and Nesbitt, who is only a sophomore, were the top three players in the division in kills, respectively. Saunders calls junior Gina Cooper “probably one of the best setters in the PSAL.”

Banneker defeated No. 14 Bronx Leadership and No. 2 CPH/East Harlem to get to the semifinals. The match against Manhattan Center – without Bondswell – might have been the Warriors’ toughest test yet, but they passed with flying colors.

“I joked with the girls after [the car accident],” Saunders said. “I said, ‘You guys are tough as nails. That lady’s side-view mirror was messed up.’”


Updated 3:43 pm, October 19, 2011
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