GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — Kings Park girls volleyball coach Ed Manly’s eyes filled with tears, not from the disappointment that his team wouldn’t be playing for a state championship, but that it was the last time he’d coach this group of seniors.
With a rotation of eight players, featuring seven seniors in Megan Sticco, Alexa Petraitis, Haley Holmes, Erika Benson, Samantha Schultz, Kara Haase and Meagan Murphy with freshman Liv Benard, Kings Park returned for its fourth straight trip to the state championships during their high school tenure.
“They definitely left a legacy for the kids to come for sure,” Manly said. “They’re just a great group.”
Kings Park was unable to advance to its second-straight state championship game after posting a 3-3 record Saturday in pool play of the Class A state championship tournament semifinals at the Cool Insuring Arena.
After dropping three of its first four sets — one by the score of 29-27, another by 28-26 — Kings Park found itself in a must-win situation in its final two sets to keep its championship hopes alive.
The Kingsmen won their first set, but fell behind 17-8 to start the team’s final semifinals set. But they rallied to win the set, 25-23. However, they were ultimately eliminated after Williamsville East defeated Walter Panas in the final set of the Class A semifinals, as Williamsville East finished 4-2 with Walter Panas at 5-1.
“I’m as proud as any person could be of any group of people,” Manly said, fighting back tears. “They’re great kids, fought hard, just didn’t play well enough. There’s some great teams, so if you don’t play your absolute best, you go home early. We lost two really tough sets, 29-27 and 28-26, and those were difference-makers for us. If we win those two sets, we’re 5-1 and comfortably through.”
Benson delivered throughout day, slamming key kills to keep the Kingsmen in every set. Murphy, at libero, played terrific defense, leading to offensive opportunities throughout the contest.
Kings Park (20-0) advanced to its seven straight state championship tournament semifinals, in large part to its current senior core.
“They were just great leaders,” Manly said. “Great kids. I’ll miss everything about what a Kings Park volleyball player is and they certainly are responsible, mature athletes.”