When Eve Stephens slammed 31 kills over the weekend, it was a booming performance heard all over the country.
It was the most kills for any UAA volleyball player since 2008 and earned the Palmer senior her first American Volleyball Coaches Association NCAA Division II National Player of the Week award.
The 6-foot-1 Seawolf averaged 20 kills and a .406 attack percentage in four matches at the Ice Block Classic in Fairbanks
“I definitely feel really good about last weekend,” Stephens said. “Just trying to leave it all out on the court. Trying to just go out there and play and enjoy my last year.”
The right-side hitter averaged 5.33 kills, 3.07 digs and 0.73 aces per set to help then-No. 20 UAA post a 3-1 tournament record. She spiked a career-best 31 kills in a five-set loss to Florida Southern, flirting with the school record of 32 kills shared by Cherie Knox (1989) and Rhea Cardwell (2008).
Eve Stephens of @uaavolleyball is the AVCA National DII Player of the Week. The senior averaged 5.33 kills, 3.07 digs and 0.73 aces per set and hit .406. She had a career-high 31 kills vs. Fla. Southern, then added two more double-doubles.
Full release: https://t.co/0r3PGwS3fD pic.twitter.com/ODYZYw74jQ
— AVCA (@AVCAVolleyball) September 6, 2022
In addition to the national award, Stephens was also won GNAC Player of the Week honors for the ninth time of her career, one shy of the conference record set in 2019.
The Seawolf star is flattered by the attention and accolades but prefers the spotlight be on her teammates, especially all-conference setter Ellen Floyd from Florida.
“My success is a testament to my teammate,” Stephens said.
Floyd has orchestrated the league’s top offense hitting .332 on the season – dwarfing the .192 average of the other nine teams.
Stephens and Floyd represent the strongest duo in the GNAC, with one leading the league at 4.8 kills per set and the other ranking No. 2 at 11.2 assists per set.
The premier pair has played alongside each other for 4+ years and have developed crazy chemistry.
“I think being with Ellen is just awesome because she’s an amazing setter,” Stephens said. “We both help out each other. Of course, there are going to be off moments but I think as a setter and as a hitter we have a great connection going and we really just get each other.
“We really talk a lot. If something is happening not quite right, we talk about to make things better.”
It’s hard to imagine Stephens playing any better. Her .409 season attack percentage leads the GNAC and puts her in the company of UAA single-season record holder Robyn Burton (.416).
Stephens, of Colony High fame, is a two-time Second Team All-American who has racked up 1,611 career kills, putting her within 17 of the GNAC record and 80 of the UAA mark.
Chasing history can weigh heavy on some athletes, but not Stephens.
“It’s pretty easy for me not to think about it because that’s not what the game of volleyball is about for me,” she said. “I think winning as a team is way more important than anything I could do as an individual player.
“You can’t really play the game of volleyball without other people, so it’s definitely a huge shoutout to my team.”
UAA has started 10-1 and is tied atop the GNAC in overall wins with UAF, which posted a 4-0 record and was named GNAC Team of the Week. The two Alaska teams have not squared off yet this season – the first meeting is Oct. 1 in Fairbanks.