After a historically dominant senior season, the accolades keep pouring in for University of Alaska Anchorage volleyball star Eve Stephens. She had already been unanimously named the Northwest Athletic Conference Big Player of the Year and the NCAA D II West Region Player of the Year.
But now she can add Ron Lenz D2CCA National Player of the Year to her impressive resume, as well as being announced as the 2022 winner on Thursday.
“I didn’t even know I was a candidate for this award,” Stephens said. “I didn’t know that the D2CCA named the National Player of the Year, so I’m very surprised but very honored by it.”
The Palmer native is the first Seawolf in program history to receive this honor and also earn First Team All-America honors in D2CCA (sports information directors) and AVCA (coaches) selections.
“Being first at UAA is crazy because there are so many great players that have come before me,” Stephens said. “Just to represent Alaska, this probably means the biggest thing to me.”
Stephens’ senior season was an incredible final chapter for his college career, setting up the postseason award series. 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 the program’s history. UAA finished with a 27-3 record, losing just one game to a conference opponent, claiming the GNAC title, and was the No. 1 seed at the Western 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 an away win over No. 10 Western Washington in which she posted a record 33 kills in four sets.
The former Colony Knight finished her career as Seawolf as the all-time GNAC and UAA leader in points (2,292.5) and kills (1,926). He also ranks in the top five on the UAA career charts in points per set (1st, 4.69), kills per set (2nd, 3.94), attack percentage (5th, .296), aces (3rd, 152), assist blocks (3rd, 361), sets played (4th, 489), games played (4th, 132) and wins (5th, 99).
“This is just the icing on the cake of a great year that I finished,” Stephens said.
While he didn’t know he would have such a prolific career at UAA when he entered the starting lineup as a wide-eyed freshman, Stephens says he’s part of Seawolves history.
“If I can leave something behind 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 the directors of sports information for NCAA Division II schools, and the conferences sponsoring women’s volleyball selected the D2CCA All-America Team. Initially, the process begins at the regional level, with all first-team selections for all regions going on to the national ballot. This marks the 16th year teams have been selected since the All-America program began in 2006.
Since 2008, it has been named for veteran South Dakota State athletic information director Ron Lenz, who was instrumental in establishing the D2CCA All-America program that recognizes student-athletes from eight Division II athletic programs in the NCAA.