Kings Park girls volleyball looked to make history on Saturday, but to do so they'd have to get through an undefeated Wantagh squad looking to defend their Long Island Class A title.
The Lady Kingsmen (20-2) got though all right, and put their fans through the ringer along the way. Kings Park battled back from a 2-0 disadvantage to take a heart-stopping fifth game and their first ever Class A Title, and will compete in the state tournament starting this Saturday in Glens Falls.
Set scores in this dramatic Long Island championship match were 17-25, 26-28, 25-18, 25-20 and 29-27
"When [it ended], the emotions I felt were unbelievable," said Kings Park head coach Elizabeth Manly. "I'm so proud."
It was a tough way for the Warriors reign to end, as along with the 2-0 lead, they had two match points in the final frame, but were unable to close things out. Kings Park missed four match points of their own, but got the one that mattered most, as Jessica Levonick's shot stayed just inside the back corner, setting off the euphoric celebration.
It was Wantagh (18-1) who was in a state of euphoria early on. They never trailed in game one, as Anna Paulik's kill gave the Warriors an 18-10 lead. Lauren Pennino's block gave Wantagh the 25-17 win.
Game two would result in more frustration for the Kingsmen. Up 24-20, they couldn't convert on four straight match points, as Gabrielle DiMeglio's spike tied it, and a Kings Park net violation cost them another chance to win. Jen Ilibasi's kill gave the Warriors the 28-26 win, and it didn't look good for the Suffolk champs.
"I said to them in between the games, we know we can do this, and we're going to take it to five," said Manly.
Kings Park never trailed in game three, a tight affair until they scored the last five, as a Levonick ace ended the 25-18 win.
It was a similar deal in game four as Kings Park led throughout in a tight one. Levoninck's tip clinched the 25-20 win as the match was knotted at two.
It was on to what would be a classic fifth game. Behind the serving of Kendall Corcoran, the Kingsmen seemed on their way with a 16-11 lead, but the defending Long Island champs scored six straight to take the lead, as Loretta O'Brien came off the bench to contribute a few kills.
Both teams seemed to tire, with several unforced and service errors. Amanda Gannon's spike put Kings Park on the brink at 24-21, but Wantagh tied it. Pennino's kill kept the Warriors alive on another match point, and twice would give her club a chance to win with a couple more kills.
Nicolette Tiernan's tip tied things at 27 and Tara Trapani's tip made it 28-27. That set up Levonick's kill, and the thrilling 29-27 win for the Kingsmen.
"That last game, going back and forth on those last points," said Kings Park's Joelle Goldstein. "I just wanted one kill that we could say 'yes, we're Long Island champions, and [Jessica] got it."
Goldstein finished with 15 kills with Levonick also a force at the net registering 13. Corocran tallied a whopping 58 assists.
Their comeback complete, the Lady Kingsmen can at long last say they are number one on Long Island.
"This is huge, I'm so excited!" said Goldstein.
Wantagh head coach Katie McKeefrey said her team may have taken their early success on the night for granted.
"I said you never have cushion, this is a finals match, and we just were making careless errors [after] making zero in the first and second game," said McKeefrey.
Despite the heartbreaking end to the season, McKeefrey was proud of how her team competed all the way until the end.
"They played amazing, they played their hearts out," said McKeefrey. "No regrets, they left everything they could out on the floor."