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Lauren Kloos’ 14 kills lead No. 1 Kings Park to ‘A’ title

Kings Park's Lauren Kloos digs against Westhampton in

Kings Park's Lauren Kloos digs against Westhampton in Suffolk Class A volleyball championship at Suffolk CC-Brentwood on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Driven to prove itself as the best in Suffolk Class A, the Kings Park girls volleyball team dominated.

Lauren Kloos’ 14 kills fueled the attack from the first set on, leading the top-seeded Kingsmen to a 25-10, 25-15, 25-13 win over No. 2 Westhampton in the Suffolk A final Thursday at Suffolk CC–Brentwood.

“Coming off the bus, music blasting, we ran into the locker room with so much energy,” Kloos said. “We were just so hyped for this game.”

The anticipation was one of excitement and not nerves, as Kings Park is quite familiar with this stage of the playoffs. Winner of a county title for six straight seasons, Kings Park (18-0) will play Floral Park on Saturday at 3 p.m. at SUNY-Old Westbury as it tries for their sixth consecutive Long Island championship.

A one-sided first game set the tone for the match. Erika Benson (seven kills, four digs) began it with a kill, then aided a defense that didn’t budge against Westhampton’s powerful hitters Camryn Bancroft and Sarena Choi.

Benson and Liv Benard provided a tough block at the net, while a back line headlined by Meagan Murphy (eight digs) and Sam Schultz (seven) refused to let balls hit the floor without a diving effort. “She gets to everything,’’ Benson said of Murphy. “There’s just no stopping her,”

Murphy sparked rally after rally with her willingness to dive all over the court. Her passes to Haley Holmes (18 assists) were accurate, allowing the setter, who is a first-year starter, to run the offense.

“This energy is with a lot younger of a squad,” Kloos said. “The skill level is just as good as it was last year, but different skill sets have been brought to our team.”

Kings Park played with a passion that coach Ed Manly said has been evident all season. “I think these kids always feel like they’re a little off everyone’s radar,’’ he said, “so when they get a chance to play inspired volleyball, they take advantage of it.”

With a fire matched by few.

Lauren Wilke sparks Bayport-Blue Point.

The Bayport-Blue Point Phantoms are finally champions.

Lauren Wilke’s 17 kills and 10 assists paced the top-seeded Phantoms in a thrilling 25-17, 13-25, 25-21, 26-28, 25-23 victory over No. 2 Glenn in the Suffolk Class B final at Suffolk CC– Brentwood, ending the Knights’ streaks at 16 county titles and 15 Long Island championships.

“I want to beat the best, and now that I’ve actually done it, I feel amazing,” Wilke said.

The win was a long time coming for Toni Mulgrave, who has coached the Phantoms since 1998. Trailing 22-17 in the fifth set, she chose the perfect time to call a timeout.

“I told them they were about to make the biggest comeback of their lives and we’re about to make history,” an emotional Mulgrave said.

Wilke, Isabella Imbo (19 assists) and Abby Auwaerter (13 kills) were crucial to the victory. Libero Emma Davern was sturdy on the back line against Glenn’s powerful combination of Maggie McGuckin (19 kills) and Emma Hines (18). Mia Cergol had 46 assists for the Knights.

The Phantoms will play Seaford for the Long Island Class B title Saturday at 1 p.m. at SUNY-Old Westbury.


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