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Coach Stephen Pierce exits an 8-time champ as Eden wins another state title

By Diana C. Nearhos
Special to the News

GLENS FALLS — The parents had all kinds of photo requests for the Eden volleyball team, but Stephen Pierce pulled his phone out just once.

The coach wanted to recreate a photo he had of this year’s seniors back when they were on the under-12 team at his club program.

Athletic director Marisa Fallacaro pulled out the framed photo and directed everyone where to stand and what facial expression they were making.

Pierce might frame the new one and display them next to each other, but for now, they’ll go on Facebook.

In his final season after 28 years as coach, there was some significance to finishing with this group.

As he added to his own record with eight straight state titles – the last six of which were in Class C – on Sunday, Sam Burgio and Molly Breier set a record for six straight as players.

“It’s a Hollywood script,” Pierce said after the 3-0 sweep of Pawling (25-10, 25-11, 25-10). “We traveled literally 860 miles through the playoffs and we did play some pretty tough matches to get here. So, for them to play as well as they did, I feel mostly gratitude.”

Eden’s level of play was even more impressive given that it maintained it despite the lack of competition.

The Raiders breezed through semifinal pool play without a margin closer than 12 points. In all, they gave up 89 points in the tournament — an average of about 10 per set.

Burgio, the senior graduating early to enroll at University of Maryland and get started with the team there, credited the team’s focus on serving to achieve that.

Eden’s serving has been on and off all year, but it went up a notch in the tournament.

Specifically, Burgio pointed to a serve-and-run drill the Raiders don’t particularly enjoy, but is effective. You serve, then run to the other end of the court — Pierce makes sure it’s a run — and serve there.

“When people practice serving, they often just stand back there and serve,” Pierce said, “We try to do it where you just ran around for a play, you’re breathing heavy and now you have to calm yourself down toserve.”

Burgio’s four aces led the team, followed by three each by setter Alyssa Durski and middle hitter Sam Logan.

Breier also credited the Raiders’ sideout attitude. They praise themselves on not giving up consecutive points often.

The only thing Breier would have liked to do differently over the last six years is get Pierce to 1,000 wins.

As much fun as it has all been, Pierce isn’t tempted to stick around longer — not even for the five wins he needs to reach that landmark.

Maybe he’ll come back down the road, but he’s good with his 995 wins and 14 state championships for now.

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