Looking for a Cinderella in the National Collegiate Men’s Volleyball Championship?
Start with King, a small Division II Presbyterian university located in Bristol, Tennessee, a town known primarily for its NASCAR track.
The Conference Carolinas-champion Tornado (16-15) take on MIVA-champion Ohio State (22-9) at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in a play-in match to kick off the tournament.
Truth be told, King’s underdog story started long ago in its own conference. King was picked to finish second in Conference Carolinas behind North Greenville. When the dust settled in the regular season, it stood third in the standings at 8-6 behind Erskine (9-5) and North Greenville (11-3).
And it’s not as if the Tornado was, um, blowing people away statistically. Among Conference Carolina teams, they ranked in the top three in only one major statistic: opponent digs (third).
Still, there was, as the records indicate, a lot of parity in the conference. King had victories over North Greenville and Erskine in the regular season, both at home. And, as luck would have it, King was the host for the Conference Carolinas tournament.
“At home we were like 6-1, so we knew we were not really a ‘travel’ team,” said junior outside hitter Warren Davis. “That gave us a little comfort going into the tournament, and from there it was just a matter of just pushing and pushing, and that’s exactly what we did.”
The Tornado blanked second-seeded Erskine, 3-0, in the semifinal, then survived a five-set thriller to defeat top-seeded North Greenville in the final as the 6-foot Davis had an astounding 29 kills (hitting .290) and 12 digs.
Davis burst onto the scene this season after sitting out volleyball for a year while getting his associates degree at Tarrant County College in his native Texas, then playing sparingly at King last season.
Lightly recruited coming out of high school, Davis did some coaching at a club while working on his associate’s degree before latching on at King. He said coaching allowed him to absorb more volleyball knowledge in preparation for resuming his playing career.
He then used the 2022 season at King to learn from the large senior class.
“I had a lot of good, core prior volleyball knowledge to get to where I am,” he said. I was able to have a good fundamental understanding of volleyball. I knew I wasn’t going to play because we had some amazing senior…
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