UAA Athletics

The pandemic season skews the stats, but the math adds up for Stephens, Floyd being among UAA’s all-time volleyball greats

The new school year brings a new subject to UAA:

Pandemic math.

It’s being introduced to college athletic departments across the country — specifically, to sports information directors, who are dealing with the stat-keeping conundrum created by the NCAA’s decision not to count last season against an athlete’s four seasons of eligibility, even though some played nearly a full season’s worth of games.

That means some current athletes will have more opportunities to fatten their individual career statistics than past and future athletes. A player who has been a school’s all-time scoring leader since 1990 could lose that claim to fame to someone who gets to play five seasons because of the pandemic.

“There was a lot of controversy whether season stats should have counted for anybody last year as far as records go,” said Nate Sagan, one of UAA’s sports information directors. “Officially, everything that happened last year, whether it was a full season or three games, all counts on everybody’s career records.”

And so for the foreseeable future, division, not addition, will be the math skill needed when discussing all-time greats.

Career points won’t matter as much as per-game averages when summing up an athlete’s career in the context of school or NCAA history.

At UAA, the basketball and volleyball teams typically play about 30 times a season. The women’s basketball team played three games and the men’s basketball team didn’t play at all last school year, but the volleyball team competed in 15 matches.

The volleyball team returns to the court Saturday night at the Alaska Airlines Center for its annual alumni match. First serve is at 7 p.m. at the auxiliary gym, and like last season, spectators are not allowed.

Outside hitter Eve Stephens enters the match as the preseason Player of the Year in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, an honor announced Tuesday when Stephens and teammate Ellen Floyd were both named to the preseason team.

Both were juniors on last season’s volleyball team, and both hit career milestones during the team’s final road trip of the season — Stephens eclipsed the 1,000-kill mark and and Floyd, a setter, surpassed 2,500 assists.

Stephens vaulted to 10th place on UAA’s list of all-time kill leaders and Floyd moved up to the No. 6 spot on the all-time assist list. Because of the NCAA’s eligibility decision, both are still juniors entering this season.

“If Eve and Ellen play their fifth year next year, they’re going to have their stats inflated by that season,” Sagan said.

The thing is, both were destined to climb up those lists anyway. Stephens ranks No. 3 all-time when it comes to kills per set and Floyd ranks No. 6 in assists per set.

Sagan said his job is to make sure the school record book shows they are worthy of ranking in the upper echelons even with the benefit of an extra half-season of matches.

“It skews things for sure,” he said. “Ellen would probably break the assists record anyway and now I’m going to have to word it so she gets credit for that fact, so that in future years people won’t say, ‘Of course she has the record, she played four-and-a-half years.’ ‘’

Per-set averages rather than totals have always mattered more in volleyball, because a match can range from a 60-minute, three-set romp to a 2.5-hour, five-set marathon. Much easier to rack up 20 kills in the latter than the former.

In fact, it would be tough to write many sports record book without the liberal use of asterisks.

In basketball, it’s important to note if a player’s career points came before or after the 3-point shot was adopted. In volleyball, it’s worth pointing out which players competed during the first several years of rally scoring, when sets were played to 30 points instead of 25.

Sometimes, there’s no math formula to help tell the tale, only footnotes.

UAA volleyball

All-time kill leaders

1. Jen Szczerbinski (1988-90, 1992) — 1,691

2. Katelynn Zanders (2012-15) — 1,392

3. Cherie Knox (1987-90) — 1,248

4. Leah Swiss (2014-17) — 1,172

5. Jackie Matthisen (2009-11) — 1,134

6. Julia Mackey (2012-15) — 1,130

7. Chrisalyn Johnson (2015-18) — 1,083

8. Brianne (Halling) McCabe (1999-2002) — 1,024

9. Sabrina Bingham (1996-99) — 1,012

10. Eve Stephens (2018-present) — 1,005

Kills per set (since 1984)

1. Rhea Cardwell (2007-08) — 4.02

2. Mindy Cason (2002-03) — 3.76

3. Eve Stephens (2018- present) — 3.67

4. Jackie Matthisen (2009-11) — 3.66

5. Katelynn Zanders (2012-15) — 3.52

6. Carolyn DeKay (2001-02) — 3.42

7. Jen Szczerbinski (1988-90, 1992) — 3.42

8. Leah Swiss (2014-17) — 3.19

9. Julia Mackey (2012-15) — 3.05

10. Chrisalyn Johnson (2015-18) — 2.90

All-time assist leaders

1. Morgan Hooe (2013-16) — 3,920

2. Janelle (Morrisette) Veith (1998-01) — 3,853

3. Tracy Zink (1987-90) — 3,791

4. Shana Purvis (1991-92, 1996) — 2,855

5. Kasey Kuelper (2000-03) — 2,625

6. Ellen Floyd (2018-present) — 2,616

7. Calli Scott (2008-09) — 2,401

8. Kimya Jafroudi (2011-12) — 1,865

9. Ann Twiggs (1983-86) — 1,757*

10. Siobhan Johansen (2010-13) — 1,715

*does not include unavailable 1983 stats

Assists per set (since 1984)

1. Calli Scott (2008-09) — 10.62

2. Kimya Jafroudi (2011-12) — 10.25

3. Janelle (Morrisette) Veith (1998-01) — 9.37

4. Ellen Floyd (2018-present) — 9.34

5. Stephanie Martinez (2002-05) — 9.09

6. Morgan Hooe (2013-16) — 8.89

7. Shana Purvis (1991-92, 1996) — 8.42

8. Tracy Zink (1987-90) — 7.66

9. Val Segerstrom (1994-95) — 7.61

10. Kathy Hajdukovich (1996-97) — 7.29

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