A year ago, Palmer’s Eve Stephens and Anchorage’s Brooke Dexter gave the state of Alaska two first team All-GNAC selections in the same season for the first time since 2016.
Head coaches in the league think they will do it again after both big hitters were picked for the Preseason All-GNAC Team.
Stephens is a senior at UAA and Dexter is a sophomore at Simon Fraser. They both play on the outside and are reigning ACVA All-Americans at NCAA Division II.
Last year, Stevens and Fraser gave Alaska two first team honorees since Anchorage’s Morgan Hooe and Leah Swiss five years ago. In 2015, three Alaskans made first team in Hooe, Swiss and Katelynn Zanders of Anchorage.
Elite Alaska players have thrived in the GNAC, with at least one player from the state making first team all-conference each year for the last decade.
Five of the players – Stephens, Swiss, Hooe, Zanders and Julia Mackey – played for the Seawolves. That’s a pretty good run.
Speaking of runs, Stephens will make a run at history this season as UAA seeks a third straight NCAA Tournament berth.
The 6-foot-2 outside hitter out of Colony High enters this season with 1,427 kills in 102 matches and is within striking distance of breaking the all-time record for UAA and GNAC record.
The school record has stood for 30 years. It’s held by Jen Szczerbinski, who slammed 1,691 kills from 1988 to 1992.
Stephens currently ranks No. 7 all-time in the GNAC in kills and is gunning to become the fourth player in conference history – and second Alaskan (Mackey) – to earn first team honors in all four seasons.
GNAC TOP-10 CAREER KILLS LEADERS
1628 – Abby Phelps, WWU 2015-18
1513 – Sam Harthun, UAF 2012-15
1491 – Kendra Bodine, NNU 2014-17
1461 – Sarah Sommerman, SU 2002-05
1454 – Alyssa Given, SPU 2004-07
1442 – Louise Free, NNU 1999-02
1427 – Eve Stephens, UAA 2018-**
1392 – Katelynn Zanders, UAA 2012-15
1379 – Meghan Evoy, WWU 2001-04
1369 – Gabby Oddo, SPU 2016-19
Dexter made quite the debut, earning GNAC Freshman of the Year, second team All-West Region and third team All-American honors.
The 6-foot-2 outside hitter out of West High led the league with 4.16 kills and 4.70 digs per set.
Dexter led Simon Fraser to a NCAA West Regional berth last season, and a 17-9 overall record.
Simon Fraser ranked second in the GNAC with 13.53 kills per set and was third with 16.62 digs per set.
The GNAC features a total of five Alaska players – Stephens and Reilly Plumhoff (Dimond) at UAA; Dexter at Simon Fraser; and Kinley Erickson (North Pole) and Ainsley Smith (North Pole) at UAF.