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Peppering the Patriots

Pier’s jump serve lifts Hayfield to second consecutive National District title

Hayfield setter Shannon Pier earned first-team all-district honors by putting her teammates in a position to attack. With the National District championship on the line, she took matters into her own hands.

Pier tallied nine aces with a powerful jump serve and the senior’s overall performance led the Hawks to their second consecutive district title with a 3-1 (25-16, 25-14, 21-25, 25-19) victory over Yorktown on Nov. 4 at Hayfield. The Hawks went on to defeat Woodson and Fairfax in the Northern Region tournament and will face Langley in the semifinals on Nov. 11, at 6 p.m., at Centreville High School. Hayfield has won 19 consecutive matches after losing its opener to West Springfield.

"It’s the proudest moment of my life," senior outside hitter Jessie Kolden said after winning the district title. "We were just playing with so much heart. We wanted it so much. We didn’t let anything affect us."

Kolden and senior middle blocker Alex Lambert each finished with 16 kills for Hayfield, but it was Pier who stole the show. Her powerful jump serves were often too much for Yorktown to handle. Pier said she started working on the serve in eighth grade, but didn’t develop consistency until her sophomore season and didn’t have the confidence to use it until her junior campaign. She had no such issues with the district title up for grabs and, after Hayfield nearly lost to Yorktown during the regular season, the 5-foot-3 Pier peppered the Patriots and assured there would be no such drama the second time around.

"It feels so great that I can do something" offensively, Pier said. "I’m usually just the setter. I set the ball for the hitters. Setters are known for all work, no glory. To get that, it’s a good feeling."

Pier also had three kills using a well-placed overhead dump attack. With Yorktown expecting her to set the ball to a teammate, Pier, without looking, would push the ball over the net to an open spot on the floor, a move she works on with head coach Jeff Berggren, a former high school and college setter.

"When she’s on [with her jump serve], she’s phenomenal," said Berggren, the National District Coach of the Year. "I really don’t have to give much instruction. She practices it every day in practice, even when I’m telling her to stay down and work on her jump float [serve] and change things up. She loves her jump serve; she can place it where she wants on the floor. It really is a huge asset to the program. …

"There are girls that are phenomenal at the offensive aspect of the game. There are girls that are phenomenal at the defensive aspect of the game. Shannon really comes together and brings it all there: the serving, setting, knowledge of the game and everything else that she brings to the table."

Hayfield has won the district crown in each of its two seasons since moving to the National District. Each year, the Hawks defeated Yorktown.