By Adam Burns
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As Alan Davis puts it, height doesn’t exactly equal a dynamic offensive attack.
That must be earned.
And Davis’ Adidas KIVA 18s squad is proving its offensive unit is indeed a force to be reckoned with at this weekend’s Triple Crown Sports WNIT at the Kansas City Convention Center.
Just four hours into the three-day WNIT on Saturday, the Louisville, Kentucky-based KIVA was sitting pretty at 3-0 and enjoying the view from atop the PowerC pool standings.
“We have not always been an explosive team during this team’s time together,” Davis said after KIVA’s three-set thrilling victory (25-19, 26-28, 15-8) over Mizuno Long Beach. “This team has always had height, but that does not always mean a fast offensive team or mobile or quick. We have spent a ton of time diversifying our offense and making us better and having players in multiple positions makes us that much better.
“They all need to play different roles,” he added. “We want our players to be good at everything. The best way to get better is to come in and practice the things that we need to improve.”
Even Texas commit Nya Bunton has contributed to diversifying the offense, shifting over from the outside to play as the team’s middle hitter. Bunton was thrilled with the team’s Day 1 efforts, which culminated with the win over Long Beach, which was 0-2 headed into the final match of pool play.
“You just never really know here,” Bunton said. “That’s why you always have to stay intense and be prepared. I’m glad we were able to execute and do our jobs. … We talked about how we were going to stay disciplined and intense all day. We executed our plan today and it was a really good start for us.”
Davis echoed Bunton’s sentiment.
“I’m really proud of them. We’ve been working really hard at getting better,” he said. “We’ve been working on improving confidence and their all-around game and it has taken some time. I’ve told them that no progress and no success ever comes without struggle. Every tournament we have gotten progressively better.”
Bunton is complemented by attacking counterparts Olivia Fish, a 6-2 outside hitter committed to Wake Forest, Gabrielle Dean, a 6-4 middle hitter bound four Illinois, and Gabrielle Gerry, a 6-5 middle hitter headed to South Carolina.
“It’s great to be able to spread out the offense and give everyone a chance to take a breather and make an impact,” Bunton said. “It’s good that we have multiple weapons and that we use them effectively.”
KIVA earned straight set victories to open the tourney, notching wins over Houston Skyline (25-23, 25-18) and Northern Lights (25-19, 25-20).
Bunton and the core of the KIVA 18s have their eyes on a championship run and improving their best WNIT showing — fourth place — from a few years back.
“It’d mean everything to get to the championship match,” Bunton said. “That’s the goal.”