Kings Park came into the postseason as the five-seed, but the seven-time reigning Long Island champions have hardly looked willing to relinquish their hold on Class A girls volleyball.
Led by the combination of Lauren Weir and Carly Estherson, the Kingsmen went on the road and knocked off top-seeded East Hampton in a five-set thriller in a county semifinal on Monday evening. Kings Park won, 25-23, 25-17, 19-25, 23-25, 25-13, and will face either No. 2 Westhampton in the county championship on Thursday at Suffolk-CCC Brentwood.
“It’s a whole different team dynamic from past teams but everything has worked out for the best and it’s all come together full circle,” said Weir, who had 13 kills and 18 digs.
Kings Park (15-3) set the tone early, winning 11 of the match’s first 13 points thanks in large part to strong serving and mistake-free play. East Hampton (14-2) fought back to tie the set at 23, but a well placed kill from Jenna Hayes and loud strike from Weir gave the Kingsmen the winning points.
“The adrenaline was flowing, we were focused and our heads were really in the game,” said Estherson, who had 34 assists, eight digs and three aces.
The Kingsmen continued their strong start in an eight-point win in the second set.
“We served really tough and kept them out of system,” coach Luis Sepulveda said. “They gave us a ton of free balls that we converted into points.”
East Hampton corrected many of these errors and showed the skill that helped it earn the top seed by taking the third and fourth sets.
“There were little errors we were making, but other than that, they were just putting balls away a little more than we were,” Weir said.
While East Hampton appeared to have momentum in its favor heading into the fifth set, the senior duo of Weir and Estherson went back to work, as a seemingly reenergized Kings Park never trailed in the decisive frame.
“We said that this could be our last game,” Estherson said. “That really got to people. Everyone said, ‘this can’t be it.’”
Added Weir: “No one wanted the season to end, so I think that was motivation for the bench to get louder and the court to work harder. We were motivated to prove to everyone we’re still good and that we can keep going.”