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Lauren Kloos, Kings Park win sixth straight L.I. Class A title

Kings Park's Lauren Kloos spikes the ball during

Kings Park's Lauren Kloos spikes the ball during the game against Floral Park on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016 Credit: Richard T. Slattery

Those weren’t boos you were hearing from the Kings Park girls volleyball crowd. They were just yelling the last name of one of Suffolk’s top stars.

Kill after thunderous kill, the Kings Park fans yelled “Kloooooos” to celebrate outside hitter Lauren Kloos’ contributions to yet another Long Island Class A championship.

Kloos and the Kingsmen beat Floral Park, 25-10, 25-19, 25-22, to win their sixth straight Long Island championship and advance to Saturday’s state tournament semifinals in Glens Falls.

The Knights’ strong middle block of Faith Balletta and Natalie Hickman posed problems for Wantagh in the Nassau Class A final, but Kloos was prepared. She had 12 kills.

“We practice with really strong middle blockers in practice because our middles are insane,” she said. “Practicing against our middles helps in games like this.”

Middles Erika Benson, a junior, and Liv Benard, an eighth grader, showed why Kloos speaks so highly of them. Benson had five kills and two blocks and Benard had six kills and two blocks.

So much of their success was as a result of controlled passing by libero Meagan Murphy (20 digs) and setter Haley Holmes (28 assists, 10 digs). No swing by Floral Park was too vicious to knock Murphy off her game as the stalwart of Kings Park’s defense.

“We watched tape on them and we knew that they pushed and hit deep, so I just stayed deep,” she said of her strategy.

The Floral Park offense gave Kings Park (19-0) several different looks. Hickman frequently tips as opposed to swings, while Alice Brandt is spectacular at dumping the ball into the middle of the defense. But Kloos said the Kingsmen were prepared for that, too.

“The tips could have been difficult for other teams, but the way we worked it out in practice [Friday], we focused on tips and unconventional balls that could come over,” she said.

Overall, it was yet another complete performance from one of Long Island’s premier teams. Sam Schultz (12 digs, seven kills) and Kara Haase (nine digs, eight kills) were also important contributors.

Having so much depth makes Kings Park a contender for a state title, which has eluded them the previous five years. It was a learning process, but Kloos says this team is ready.

“It’s different every year because it’s a different group of girls,” she said. “You have to go through adversity.”

With adversity out of the way, this could be Kings Park’s year.

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