GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — From pure uncertainty to pure ecstasy. The Kings Park girls volleyball team was in an uncommon situation Saturday after a 2-4 effort in pool play left them in a three-way tie for second place at the state Class A semifinals.
But the Kingsmen (19-0) knocked off Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake and Williamsville East in tiebreaker games and will face Cortlandt Manor Walter Panas for the championship Sunday at 10 a.m.
“We’ve come here for five years, and every year we have to go home and say, ‘Yeah, we finished third again,’” coach Ed Manly said. “Just to get over the hump and get to this game is so huge for the kids.”
Because of point differential, Kings Park had to play Burnt Hills in a one-set playoff to determine who would play Williamsville in yet another sudden-death set, which would determine Panas’ opponent.
Kings Park rolled through Burnt Hills, 25-13, before besting Williamsville, 25-17, to advance.
“We weren’t here just to be happy to be here,” said junior Kara Haase. “We were here to win.”
When senior Lauren Kloos’ mighty swing resulted in the clinching point, pandemonium ensued.
A whirlwind of emotions struck. The girls piled on top of each other in tears. Manly ran a circle around his end of the court, pumping his fist in excitement. Parents in the stands were just as teary eyed as their daughters.
After all, this is Kings Park’s sixth straight trip to the semifinals, but the first time it has survived to play in the final.
Integral to Kings Parks’ win-or-go-home turnaround was Kloos, the team’s lone senior. She averaged 6.25 kills per set, often willing her younger teammates through stretches when the offense wasn’t clicking.
“She’s everything to the team,” said junior libero Meagan Murphy. “She’s a calming force when everyone’s getting rattled.”
“I get so much support from the girls,” Kloos said. “I didn’t want the season to end.”
As is typical for this Kings Park team, the sum of its parts was the difference. Kloos, Haase, Sam Schultz and Haley Holmes aided Murphy on an impenetrable back line.
Holmes was key to the offense, averaging nine assists per set. Erika Benson and Liv Benard provided a blanket at the net for teams to try and hit through.
The same performance is necessary against Panas, which beat Kings Park 25-22, 25-21. Already having made program history, the Kingsmen’s energy could lift them to a reversal of fortune.
“The slogan on the back of our shirts is, ‘Protect the legacy left for you. Leave the program better than you found it,’” Manly said. “These kids protected the hell out of the legacy and have certainly left the program better than it started.”
And yet there’s still room for more.