Following a historically dominant senior season, the accolades keep rolling for University of Alaska Anchorage volleyball star outside hitter Eve Stephens. She had already been unanimously named the Great Northwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year and NCAA D II West Region Player of the Year.
But now she can add the Ron Lenz D2CCA National Player of the Year to her impressive resume, as well after being announced as the 2022 recipient on Thursday.
“I didn’t even know I was a contender for this award,” Stephens said. “I didn’t know that the D2CCA put out a National Player of the Year, so I’m very surprised but very humbled by it.”
The Palmer native is the first Seawolf in program history to receive this honor and also earn First Team All-America honors on both the D2CCA (sports information directors) and AVCA (coaches) selections.
“To be the first at UAA is insane because there are so many great players that have come before me,” Stephens said. “Just to represent Alaska, this probably means the biggest for me.”
Stephens’ senior season was an incredible final chapter to her collegiate career, setting up the string of postseason awards. She was named GNAC Player of the Week seven times and AVCA National Player of the Week twice. She was instrumental in pushing UAA to one of the best regular seasons in program history. UAA finished with a 27-3 record, lost just one match to a conference opponent, claimed the GNAC title and was the No. 1 seed at the West Region championships.
She was consistently dominant on the court, recording double-digit kills in all but two matches. One of her most impressive performances came in a come-from-behind road win over No. 10 Western Washington in which she logged a record 33 kills in four sets.
The former Colony Knight finished her career as a Seawolf as the GNAC and UAA all-time leader in points (2,292.5) and kills (1,926). She also ranks in the top five on UAA’s career lists for points per set (1st, 4.69), kills per set (2nd, 3.94), attack percentage (5th, .296), aces (3rd, 152), block assists (3rd, 361), sets played (4th, 489), matches played (4th, 132) and victories (5th, 99).
“This is just the icing on the cake to a great year that I finished out,” Stephens said.
While she didn’t know that she would go on to have such a prolific career at UAA when she was thrust into the starting lineup as a wide-eyed freshman, Stephens says to be a part of Seawolves history.
“If I can leave behind something for a sport that I love like volleyball, that’s awesome because I love volleyball and I love UAA,” she said.
The National Player of the Year award is determined by sports information directors from NCAA Division II schools, and conferences sponsoring women’s volleyball selected the D2CCA All-America Team. The process initially starts at the regional level, with all First-Team All-Region picks moving on to the national ballot. This marks the 16th year that teams have been selected since the All-America program began in 2006.
Since 2008, it has been named after longtime South Dakota State sports information director Ron Lenz, who was key in establishing the D2CCA All-America program that recognizes student-athletes from eight NCAA Division II athletic programs.