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Golden Valley's Zach Pearce: Natural selection

G.V. senior switched sports, and picked up the new one quickly

Posted: April 30, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 30, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Golden Valley senior setter Zach Pearce didn’t play volleyball until his sophomore year. Since then, he’s become an important piece of this season’s team after graduation losses taxed the program.

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Two years ago, the closest Zach Pearce had come to a volleyball court was watching a buddy of his play on the freshman team.

To say the Golden Valley senior didn’t know much about the sport was an understatement.

He was far too invested in baseball.

But things changed, and Pearce had to adjust.

Thinking back, Pearce wouldn’t have done things any differently.

“I knew it was going to be tough,” Pearce says of switching sports. “I knew it was going to be a challenge. I definitely expected a challenge.”

When he was in 10th grade, Pearce took a somewhat blind leap when a friend convinced him to try out for the school’s volleyball team.

He was on the lookout for a new sport after he made the decision to discontinue his pursuits of baseball after 10 years playing the sport.

“It was actually pretty different because, to be honest, I thought I was pretty good at baseball and I knew a ton about it and had played it my whole life,” Pearce says. “(Then) I go to a sport that I knew nothing about.”

It just so happened volleyball was the first one that caught his eye.

As a natural athlete and a competitor, Pearce was ready and willing.

“With a school like Golden Valley, we don’t get a lot of club players,” says volleyball head coach Jeff Cody. “So my goal is always to get the kids who played other sports.”

Pearce started off as an outside hitter on the JV team, but was later asked to fill a need at setter.

By the end of sophomore year, Pearce was good enough to get the call up to varsity to participate in a playoff match.

The following season, it was on to varsity full-time, but only as a backup setter.

His playing time was inconsistent.

He waited for his call.

“I think he embraces (his starting role now) because last year he really didn’t get to play that much, and I think it was frustrating for him to have to sit on the bench a lot,” says Pearce’s senior teammate, Alec Schlossman.

After a year spent learning from backing up former Golden Valley setter Colton Korne, it was a no-brainer to give Pearce the nod as the new starter.

In two years, he had come full circle from complete newcomer to a varsity starter. And a good one at that.

This season, Pearce has accumulated 606 assists, including 269 in nine Foothill League matches.

He’s also perfected his jump-serving skills and become a force in the front row as a blocker thanks to his 6-foot-1-inch frame.

“A lot of times, setters are usually shorter guys and they can be liability up front, but he’s actually an asset,” Cody says.

As a setter, Pearce has been given the difficult task of dealing with the graduation loss of several key members of a team that made the CIF-Southern Section Division II playoffs in each of the past two seasons.

The only returning starter this year was Schlossman, who has been Pearce’s go-to outside hitter all year.

Schlossman and Pearce have developed a strong bond as two of the team’s few seniors, and the result has been a staggering 572 kills for Schlossman, 213 in league play.

“We definitely have great communication going with me, him and (Cody),” Pearce says. “We’re always talking, we’re always saying what can we do to fix this problem. We’re talking a lot more.”

Although the majority of Golden Valley’s offense comes from the Pearce-to-Schlossman connection, it’s a lot more than meets the eye.

Teams key on Schlossman. They put up two, sometimes three players to defend him.

Opponents know it’s coming, so Pearce needs to be creative.

“We’ve had to work on setting me different types of sets and moving me around the court to kind of throw the blockers off,” Schlossman says.

It’s all part of Pearce’s learning process — albeit an accelerated one — in a brand new sport and a brand new position.

Pearce never played club volleyball and he never had private lessons. He just played gave it a shot.

Turns out, he was a natural.



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