By Kyle Koso
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – One way to describe the task of facing the 16u Dynasty Black volleyball team can make anyone shiver in dread – imagine having a never-ending to-do list.
The way Dynasty can take charge at the net, as well as dig up any variety of tough shots, while also offering up numerous offensive threats from the back row to the front … well, it’s a lot to solve. And the team from Kansas City, KS., simply played at the height of its powers on Monday, storming past NKYVC in the TC NIT 16 Elite title match, 25-9, 25-18.
Dynasty never won every match in straight sets in bracket play, in one of the toughest competitive challenges a team will face in a given season. You can shower compliments on them just as they showered points in a dominant Set 1, scoring 14 in a row at one point.
“All of us talked after that first set, and we thought we played pretty perfect volleyball. We’ve been focusing a lot on our defense, and we’ve been pretty confident in our offense,” said Dynasty head coach Cassie Rockers. “They’ve been pretty darn good; we added three players to our roster who make us a lot better. They round out the team.”
Those additions – setters Reese Messer and Lauren Wright and middle Jada Ingram – did great work, with Messer using some clever tips to register points. Providing relentless offense and great blocking was Skyler Pierce, while Carlie Cisneros answered every assignment, whether it was to keep a point alive or to come flying in from the back row to tally another point.
Libero Ryan McAleer had a couple of difficult digs right out of the gate, more or less announcing to the crown and the ESPN3 audience that Dynasty wasn’t kidding around with a title on the line.
“It went really well, the best we played all weekend, and we did it as a team, not individually,” said Pierce, who had a noisy solo block for the first point in Set 2 that made it hard to imagine Dynasty would be letting down. “It felt amazing to do what we do, and it’s fun to do it with this team. I wouldn’t ask for anything else.”
Ultimately, Set 2 did get a bit interesting as NKYVC took a 12-11 lead on a tip from Lilly Gillespie, with another moment where all six Dynasty players watched a ball just drop in the middle of the court. But the window closed quickly. A sharp-eyed backset from Messer led to a kill from Abigail Mullen, Pierce combined with Piper Newton on a block, and Cisneros had an ace and another tough serve to handle, and suddenly it was 16-12.
“Our offense is already amazing, but we’ve been working on defense. Scouting teams, knowing what moves to make, and we all made the right moves at the right time,” McAleer said. “We had a moment of miscommunication, but we know that mistakes will happen and you have to move on from it. We’ve gotten good at putting a smile on our faces and talking each other up.”
“It feels amazing, because every single player that goes out there for us, we all have a very important part in things,” added Cisneros, who had a nice terminal swing to make it 22-15 in the second set and later ended the match with a kill. “We were meshing together; we didn’t want matches to go to three (sets), and the goal was to win Triple Crown.”