From Manager to Player: How Sarah Stephens Made It To the Volleyball Court


By Mallory Arnold, Sports Writer

Sarah Stephens came to the University of Utah as a freshman in 2018 with hopes of joining the volleyball team, but things didn’t quite work out as she planned. In the end, she found success, and this season she has helped the defense build a winning record in a season that started with seven straight wins.

Stephens is a redshirt freshman from Salt Lake City who graduated from Skyline High School in 2018. In her senior season of high school, she had 436 digs, averaging 5.0 digs per set. She is a defensive specialist and libero. 

Stephens has two brothers and one sister, and describes herself as very family-oriented, saying that her family did everything together. “I grew up right next to my cousins, always spending a lot with everyone in my family, and not just my immediate family,” Stephens said. 

Her strongest influence comes from her mom, because she has always pushed her and been the one to tell her to get in the extra reps.

“I’m also very influenced by my coaches, because they have built my confidence and told me that I was good enough to make it, then I build off that. It makes me want to be even better” Stephens said. 

Growing up as a Utah fan in Salt Lake, there was a lot of pressure for Stephens to take the next steps in representing her hometown.  She has taken this opportunity and allowed it to motivate her into becoming the athlete that she is today.

“I honestly feel so motivated because all my family get to come watch me,” Stephens said. “I went to high school ten minutes away, so I have a lot of high school friends coming to watch. I want to make my hometown proud.”

When she started out at the U last fall, she was the volleyball team’s manager, attending every practice and game but not getting the playing time that she wanted. After a very successful spring, she was able to earn her place on the team. 

Stephens believes that she got to where she is because she knows how hard work and dedication can improve your game. “I needed to constantly prove myself and learned that things don’t just come easy to you, you have to work for it,” she said. “Put in the work and you will get the results.”

Although the season is just beginning, Stephens has already proven herself in the first ten games of the fall. She has been able to get playing time in the first nine game, and the redshirt freshman has yet to make an error.

So far on the season, Stephens has had 32 digs. Her season high of seven digs came against Cal Poly, and she also had six digs in the Utes big win against Kentucky. She’s scored two points and has had 26 spiked, set, tipped or hit attempts (SPs).

“I want to improve on believing in myself and just knowing that I can go out there and do it,” Stephens said. She is always trying to improve in all aspects on the court but believes this one will make the most difference in her gameplay. 

In the offseason, Stephens enjoys going on vacation anywhere there is a beach, whether it’s California or the Bahamas. She also enjoys any type of Mexican food and going to eat with her friends and family. Stephens is also a member of the Chi Omega sorority at the U, just like her older sister.  All of her siblings either attended the U or are currently attending the school, which was another motivation for her to attend and play for the university.

“I am so proud watching my sister play at such a high level and be competitive,” said Hannah Stephens, Sarah Stephens’ sister. Watching her get a perfect dig that I wouldn’t even think someone could get gives me chills. It’s been a lot of fun being able to watch her.”

Stephens and the rest of the volleyball team will face Colorado at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m.


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