OLATHE, Kan. (BVM) – Skyler Pierce has already put together an impressive list of accomplishments during her volleyball career, but the best is likely still to come.
Possessing elite talent that has her ranked No. 4 in the country in the Class of 2024, Pierce already has her sights set on playing professionally someday.
“I want to get the opportunity to play nationally or pro,” Pierce said. “I’m sure that I’ll still have this love for volleyball that I have now.”
Pro volleyball could be in Pierce’s future, but her focus right now is on the start of her college career. The Olathe Northwest High School standout had plenty of college options to choose from, but one school always stood above the rest: Nebraska.
Pierce attended camps at Nebraska when she was younger and was drawn to the culture of the program. If the Cornhuskers extended an offer, she knew that would likely be her next volleyball stop.
— Sky Pierce 🐝 (@SkyPierce21) June 19, 2022
“From the beginning, I was around the Nebraska community,” Pierce said. “Being around them so much across the years at camps, I think that helped me build that connection with them.
“I wanted to go somewhere that felt like home and I knew from the beginning that Nebraska definitely had that feeling for me. Being in that arena, having that feeling of, ‘Wow, I think I could really play here,’ was something surreal. I knew if I got that call I couldn’t pass up that opportunity.”
Another draw to Nebraska for Pierce was being able to stay relatively close to home as Lincoln is just over a three-hour drive from her hometown, Lenexa, Kansas.
“What it came down to really was how far away did I want to be from home,” Pierce said. “My family, my village are really my big supporters and I wanted to make sure that they can come to any of the games that they wanted to.”
— Nebraska Volleyball (@HuskerVB) November 8, 2023
While playing close to home, Pierce will relish the opportunity to represent where she is from and those around her.
“It means a lot to be able to represent Kansas,” Pierce said. “Knowing that I’ll be representing Kansas City, my family, the clubs I played for, it definitely is a great feeling.”
Being a role model for the next generation of volleyball stars is something that comes along with that which is one of Pierce’s main focuses on and off the court.
“Being able to be that role model for them, it’s always a great feeling to know that you’re not just playing for yourself, but you’re being a role model for the younger girls and the younger kids that play volleyball,” Pierce said.
Pierce has already been representing the Kansas City area in a positive light for several years. After getting her start in the sport around 8 years old while playing on a rec team led by her mom and aunt, the 6-foot-2 outside hitter got her first taste of club volleyball with KC Power when she was 10, immediately realizing her love for the sport.
“After that first official club experience and club practice at KC Power, I really knew that this was a sport that I wanted to keep pursuing,” Pierce said.
Eventually, Pierce moved on to join Mavs KC and played with Team Dynasty Volleyball throughout her high school years. At the same time, she was making an immediate impact on the court at Olathe Northwest.
Despite a unique season that was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Pierce helped guide a young team to the state championship game as just a freshman while being named a first-team all-state performer.
“It definitely was a weird year,” Pierce said. “It was a big adjustment not just for me, but for everyone.
“It definitely was a change of pace so I had to adjust to that, new coaches and new things that they were wanting me to work on and focus on that season. But it was really nice to have those upperclassmen that kind of help you figure out what high school is really about and help you on and off the court.”
As things became more normalized during her sophomore and junior years, Pierce’s play only got better. She led the Ravens back to state as a sophomore, and while she continued to put up strong numbers, the biggest growth in her game came through her leadership.
“It kind of helped me step into a leadership role,” Pierce said. “It was a big step in finding my leadership role, finding my voice.”
That set the stage for her final season at Olathe Northwest this past fall. With seven seniors on the roster, Pierce’s main focus was a state title as she and her team left everything they had on the court.
“Our plan was to go to state this year,” Pierce said. “We needed to put in the work, be even better than we were last year and really come out strong this season.
“This was the last time we’re all going to be together and probably have this level of a team so we needed to make sure we go out strong. That was the mindset throughout the whole season.”
The 31-5 Ravens would make it back to state but again came up just short of a championship. Still, Pierce had a tremendous year, setting the program record for kills after recording 457 this season while also racking up 238 digs, 68 aces and 45 blocks with a .404 hitting percentage.
— Olathe Northwest Volleyball (@OlatheNWVBall) September 20, 2023
Her performance earned her the Evelyn Gates Award, a prestigious honor given to the top high school volleyball player in the Kansas City area.
Olathe Northwest’s Skyler Pierce won the 2023 Evelyn Gates award Wednesday as the top girls high school volleyball player in Kansas City.https://t.co/t8sdnPot8g
— KSHB 41 News (@KSHB41) November 15, 2023
“The Evelyn Gates Award isn’t just about your volleyball skill or how good you are as a volleyball player,” Pierce said. “It’s also about who you are off the court and what you do for your community. It was a great and awesome honor to have because it just means so much more than the game of volleyball.”
In addition to the Evelyn Gates Award, Pierce’s game also received national recognition as she was named an Under Armour All-American.
Olathe Northwest senior Skyler Pierce (@SkyPierce21) was surprised at a school assembly today with her 2024 Under Armour Next All-America Volleyball Game jersey 🏐
— 810 Varsity (@810varsity) September 29, 2023
“I’m so excited just being named one of the All-Americans and am blessed by God to have these opportunities to play with these girls, be with these coaches and just have so much fun,” Pierce said. “It’s a really exciting experience.”
Playing in the Under Armour All-America Game will not be the first time the Olathe Northwest senior has competed on a big stage. Over the last few years, Pierce has also had the opportunity to represent her country with USA Volleyball.
“It means everything just to be able to wear that red, white and blue on your chest and stand out on the court with the others standing next to you, knowing that you’re representing your country and where you’re from,” Pierce said. “It’s just something so much bigger than yourself.”
While Pierce is known for her calm demeanor on the court, she admits that there can be pressure when it comes to the expectations of the big moments and high rankings. However, one of her main objectives is being able to block out the noise.
“It’s kind of hard to ignore those statuses or awards,” Pierce said. “But on the court, that’s when you have to block out all that noise. That’s something I’ve been working on is my mindset to make sure that when I step on the court, all the stress leaves my body and I just completely focus on volleyball and perform at a level I can perform at.”
The expectations will only increase as Pierce arrives in Lincoln, particularly as the Huskers are coming off a tough loss to Texas in the national championship game, and continue to seek their first national title since 2017.
“I know the girls definitely have the mindset of we’re hungry, we want it now,” Pierce said. “I know that they all have that feeling that we want to come back next season even stronger. I hope that when I get there I’ll be able to contribute to that and help the team get to where we want to be.”
Thanks to her winning mindset, Pierce should be a perfect fit at Nebraska. She’s excited to become the best player she can be in Lincoln which she hopes leads to a lasting legacy with the Huskers.
“I’m so excited to go to Nebraska,” Pierce said. “They recruit the best athletes that they can and I know when I step in that gym I’m going to surround myself with the best athletes and that I’ll get better from being around them. You can’t become the best without being around the best.
“I’m excited to leave my mark at Nebraska and hopefully leave a legacy there.”