GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — Everything Kings Park girls volleyball accomplishes is done with pride.
The Kingsmen overcome adversity with pride and they win with pride. In Sunday’s state Class A championship match against Cortlandt Manor’s Walter Panas High School at the Glens Falls Civic Center, they even lost with pride.
Panas swept Kings Park, 25-12, 25-17, 25-23, to capture the first state championship in that school’s history, according to athletic director Daniel Belfi.
“ ‘Pride’ doesn’t begin to describe how proud we are of the kids for everything that they’ve been through this season,” Kings Park coach Ed Manly said. “All the adversity, the injuries, people moving in and out of the lineup. To be the second-best team in New York State is pretty cool.”
This was the Kingsmen’s sixth straight appearance in Glens Falls but only its first appearance in the final in program history.
Even with somewhat lopsided losses in the opening two sets, Kings Park (19-1) proved its worth by hanging tough with Panas in the third. The Kingsmen led 23-21 before Panas clinched the title with a 4-0 run.
“I don’t think we ever lost hope,” said setter Haley Holmes, whose 25 assists were spread between five different hitters. “I felt like we were confident the whole time that we could still win. We proved that in the third set, but it just didn’t go our way.”
Lauren Kloos, the team’s only senior, recorded 16 kills and was named to the all-tournament team along with junior libero Meagan Murphy, who continuously provided her offense with opportunities after saving points.
“It’s crazy how proud we are to be part of this team, how proud we are to come here and for the first time in our school’s history, we make it to the final,” Kloos said.
This was far from an embarrassing performance for Kings Park. In fact, Manly said that each of his starters played well, even if they were out of sync at times.
Panas made very few service errors and capitalized on free balls. Outside hitter Yvette Burcescu, who verbally committed to Tulane, stands 6-2 and was a presence on both offense and defense. She earned tournament MVP honors.
“We’re not happy to lose, we don’t like losing, but we know how to do it graciously,” Manly said. “Walter Panas deserves it.”
So even after a loss, the Kingsmen held their heads high. Kloos, who plans to play in college and has yet to decide on a school, raved about next year’s group of returning talent.
“If everyone is this good this year, they’re going to be ridiculous next year because they’re only going to improve,” she said.
Holmes, Murphy, Sam Schultz, Erika Benson and Kara Haase are juniors who will be tasked with continuing the program’s high standards. The way they performed this weekend, the team appears to be in capable hands.
“We never take for granted what the program is, and we just try to make it better,” Holmes said.
This year they certainly could take pride in making it better.