There are points in a lifetime where you have to rise above various tragic barriers in which the healing process may be perpetual. For first-year setter Keaton Pieper, his infatuation and inspiration for the sport of volleyball is in honor of the Hausfeld family.
During Pieper’s junior year at Archbishop Alter High School in Dayton, Ohio, two members of the Hausfeld family Tom, the pilot, and one of his daughter’s Kacie, a volleyball player at Dayton University, were flying to Duke University when the plane crashed and both were killed.
“They are the reason why I play volleyball,” the first-year player calmly said. “Now when I am playing, I always have them in the back of my head.”
Laura and Tom Hausfeld taught most, if not every aspect of the setting process in volleyball to Pieper. Mrs. Hausfeld was his volleyball coach throughout seventh grade and his guide for volleyball during his high school days.
“I learned setting from their whole family between the two daughters playing Division I volleyball at Dayton University and Duke University,” Pieper said.
In his final volleyball season at Archbishop Alter, the setter dedicated the season to the two members of the Hausfeld family in winning a state championship. Aside from being a champion, Pieper has attained a relatively broad resume. He made the all-state first team during his junior and senior year and was the West Region Player of the Year his senior year.
The journey didn’t stop there for the Ohio native as he played on the Vanguard Club team, placed third at the St. Louis national qualifier and went on to the 2011 U.S. tournament. The son of Jeff and Lisa Pieper decided to take his talents to Springfield, where there is a history of winning.
Coming onto his doorstep happened to be Springfield College men’s volleyball coach Charlie Sullivan.
“Coach Sullivan’s process in recruiting me was great, the visit and tour of Springfield was great also, and the team was very comforting which ultimately made me choose Springfield College,” said the Kettering resident.
In the 2011-12 season, Pieper has rose to the occasion contributing 542 assists (averaging 10.8 assists per game), 62 digs and 16 serving aces. His presence in the front row is striking. He doesn’t get jittery or butterflies like a first-year player would do.
“I think he definitely has reached our expectations,” Sullivan said. “He has done a great job thus far, stepping in as a first string guy who has made changes to his game. He is more fundamentally sound. We are really happy with what he has done with his game this year.”
In an average season of volleyball a team wants to be within the .350 to .400 attacking percentage. This year the No. 13 Springfield College men’s volleyball team has succeeded a .351, the best in all of Division III. Part of the reason is the passes are nearing Pieper to set the volleyball for front attackers like juniors Mike Pelletier, Greg Falcone, Alistair Matthews and freshman Angel Perez.
“We are always working to keep our rhythm between our passers to setters and setters to attackers, the 14-year coach added. “We lead the country in hitting percentage in Division III which is based around rhythm. Keaton is distributing the ball well and getting everyone involved. He helps maintain an effective offense.”
Pieper’s main teammate on the court is sophomore Nick Ferry. Ferry’s duties contain digging out balls and passing the ball to Pieper where he can reach and handle a set for the hitters, whether it is front row or back row.
“On the court he distributes an amazing offense, has great court awareness, and most importantly has a positive attitude at all times toward his teammates,” said Ferry.
The remaining schedule for the Pride includes nine games left before they host the NCAA Division III Championship at Blake Arena on April 27-29. Throughout this stretch of nine games the men’s volleyball team will compete against top teams like No. 7 Nazareth College, No. 10 Vassar College, and No. 13 Elmira College. This competition will prep the Pride for the playoffs.
Mark Loiselle may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org