Just a couple of days after matching her career high in kills with 23 against Boston College, the ACC announced Dec. 2 that NC State volleyball junior opposite hitter Melissa Evans earned Second Team All-ACC honors.
It’s the second year in a row that Evans has been named Second Team All-ACC, after being selected to the preseason All-ACC team as well, and the third year she has received an ACC honor. Her freshman year, she was named to the All-ACC All-Freshman Team. Evans is one of three players in the history of the program to receive three All-ACC honors.
The honors are incredible and certainly well-deserved, but what is more impressive is the stats, both for this season and for her career. Evans has solidified her place among NC State volleyball’s best.
In the 2019 season, she dominated her opponents and was no doubt the leader of the team. Evans recorded double-digit kills in 24 of the 28 matches she played in, including six 20-plus kill matches. She was also fifth in digs and third in blocks on the team despite missing two of the 30 matches.
Evans’ team-high 408 kills was second in the ACC and third highest in the history of the program in the rally-scoring era. While ranking that high is a success in its own, doing it on a team that underperformed is incredible. Next year, when the team improves and gets over the hump — because it will, with the talent it has — Evans could easily lead the conference in kills.
At 453.5 points, she ranked second in the conference in total points and ninth in points per set with 3.94. Evans had 3.55 kills per set, seventh in the ACC, and 1.15 digs per set while recording a 0.218 hitting percentage.
Although this year is impressive, her entire body of work throughout her NC State career is more incredible. Her performance won’t be up with the best of the best of the program, but it’s pretty close.
She is at 959 career kills and reached 1,000 career points earlier this season against Miami. With another good year, she can easily reach the top eight of NC State’s kill leaders.
The 6-foot-1 opposite hitter was vital to a struggling NC State (11-19, 6-12 ACC) team this year, being the only Wolfpack player to be etched into an All-ACC list and providing a spark and much-needed energy throughout the year.
In a Technician interview in 2017, her freshman year, everything Evans said was team-focused, even after her ACC Freshman of the Week honor in September of that year. Whether she was on the bench or running on the court, she said she wanted to give the team everything she had in her time in Raleigh.
“I just love playing [volleyball],” Evans said in 2017. “I love the attention that we get as a team. I love feeling, if I get a kill, like, ‘I did it for y’all.’ In the end, it feels good; it feels really good.”
At the time, she didn’t have to be the star, and head coach Linda Hampton-Keith knew that, allowing her to grow into the player she is today. Her goal was to help the team, and looking back at everything she has done for this program, Evans has gone far and beyond that as a player with the ball in the air and as a leader while the net is down.
“She’s obviously coming off a fantastic week where she got Freshman of the Week, so that’s awesome, but we don’t necessarily want to put that kind of pressure on her,” Hampton-Keith said in 2017. “I think she does a really good job at just taking things day by day and just trying to get better at little things every day. So that is credit to her for doing that.”
The Pack lost eight matches at a 3-2 set count, six of them in the ACC. If just half of those fifth-set losses landed the other way, the outlook on the season could be quite different. NC State volleyball is returning 14 players next season, Evans being one of them, so the story for next season could be much more positive.