By Kyle Koso
KANSAS CITY, MO -- The Dynasty Volleyball club made its debut at the Triple Crown NIT in 2019, when the event moved from Salt Lake City to Kansas City -- it made for a pleasant trip for Dynasty, based in KC's suburbs.
As it turned out, the 13 Elite Dynasty team took home the title in 2019, then decided to mix the roster up a bit with five new players as it went for the repeat in 2020 at 14 Elite. It appears the NIT and Dynasty are proving to be a natural fit, as Dynasty fulfilled its own high expectations and won again, beating A5 Mizuno-Helen in three sets, 25-19, 24-26, 15-9.
A kill from Carlie Cisneros actually gave Dynasty a lead in Game 2, 18-16, and winners from Nela Misipeka put the team on the doorstep of a sweep at 23-22 before A5 fought back to tie it. Dealing with that disappointment and having to extend the effort was critical for Dynasty.
"We thought about how we got where we were today, and we weren't going to let it go away because of a lousy set we had," said Cisneros, who answered the call repeatedly when a shot was needed. "We were going to keep fighting and not let anything change the fact we are champions. I'm one of the new players; this was a huge change. I was playing in the USA division, and now I'm on one of the best teams in the nation.
"Our defense was on point, and we never let anything drop. Our middles were always closing the block, doing what they're supposed to. It's amazing, and it's really great to know they trusted me and felt confident enough to give me the final ball. I took care of it, and that felt really great."
Misipeka is one of those surprise players who comes by rarely, standing just 5-foot-6 but incredibly springy and always a factor on the outside. She said at about age 12, it became obvious she had the vertical jump that makes a difference in the sport.
"Our pins hitters are unstoppable, and for me to have that pressure on me, I just work harder and try to get that kill for my team," she said. "After Game 2, we talked about keeping the intensity, and that communication was key. Winning this again was something I really wanted, and for us to work hard and get this is really great."
Game 3 was tied at 6-all; two kills from Misipeka made it 9-6, and two more winners from Ava Spachek pushed it to 11-7. Two clever tips from Misipeka got it near the finish line, and a block from Abigail Mullen sealed the verdict.
"We wanted to get a little bit longer; we're still pretty small compared to nationally, but we have so much versatility on our pins. We have four of the best in the country," said Dynasty coach Levi Gibson. "We want to keep people on their toes and move the ball around. We play with a chip on our shoulder, and in these environments we are comfortable.
"This is a coming of age tournament for some of our kids. Sometimes we stepped away from our game plan in the second set; we went over it again, and when we execute we can play at a real high level. That was a barnburner and it could have gone either way; the margin of victory is so small, and we were happy to comer out on top. We'll see those guys a lot this year."