Sari Virtanen Stevens Athlete Profile

#6 Sari Virtanen Stevens

Sari Virtanen Stevens
Position: Middle Blocker Height: 6-0 Roster Years: 1985-1986 Hometown: Sivikkala, Finland Hall of Fame: 2000

  • 2000 Women's Volleyball




All-America

  • 1985 CVCA/Russell Second Team
  • 1985 Volleyball Monthly Third Team
  • 1986 CVCA/Russell First Team
  • 1986 Volleyball Monthly First Team

2000 Hall of Fame Inductee

The jump serve can be one of the most powerful weapons in a volleyball player's arsenal. It is also one of the most exciting plays to watch.

Sari Virtanen Stevens came to BYU in 1985 after playing two years with the Finnish national team. As a seasoned player, she was expected to make an immediate impact for the Cougars. What wasn't expected was the lasting impression she'd make with her new serving technique. Sari credits then women's assistant coach Carl McGown with the idea for the unique serve. After she had agreed to come to BYU, he asked her to start practicing it because it was good for a team to have different serving styles.

The jump serve paid off immediately for Sari and the Cougars, and she still holds several of the top marks in the BYU record books. She recorded 104 service aces in 1986, for an average of .912 aces per game. Both are single-season records. Her match-record nine aces in a 1985 game against Utah are a feat that has been equalled just twice.

For her career, Sari ranks second only to 1999 Cougar Club Hall of Fame inductee Dylann Duncan Ceriani in total service aces. Dylann amassed her 233 aces over her four years at BYU; Sari recorded 191 aces in just two years of play. Sari's career average of 0.67 aces per game is a BYU best.

As a middle blocker, Sair received national recognition for her contributions to the Cougar volleyball team. In 1985 her stellar all-around play helped BYU reach the final eight of the NCAA Tournament. After the season, she was named to the College Volleyball Coaches Association All-America Second Team and the Volleyball Monthly All-America Third Team.

In 1986, with the help of Sari's power serving and 640 kills (fourth on BYU's all-time single-season list), BYU reached the No. 1 spot in the CVCA poll. It marked the first time a BYU women's team had been ranked No. 1 in any sport. Fittingly, Sari was named First-Team All-America by both the CVCA and Volleyball Monthly.

In each of her two years at BYU, she was named the High Country Athletic Conference Player of the Year. She was also selected to the HCAC First Team both years.

After the 1986 season, Sari was named to the CVCA All-Northwest Region NCAA Division I First Team and was selected as the region's Player of the Year.

She was also the 1986 recipient of the Leona Holbrook Spirit of Sport Award. This award is given by the Cougar Club each year to the senior female athlete who "best exemplifies the true spirit of sport in athletics and in life."

Sari graduated from BYU in 1989 in communications and married Brian Stevens.

Personal

  • B.S. in communications from BYU, 1989
  • Married to Brian

Career Highlights

  • All-tournament three times in 1985
  • HCAC Player of the Week three times
  • Deseret News Utah County Athlete of the Month
  • HCAC First Team and Offensive Player of the Year
  • CVCA/Russell All-America Second Team
  • Volleyball Monthly All-America Third Team
  • Cougar Club and All-HCAC Acadmeic Athlete
  • 1986 Cougar Club Crowd Pleaser Award
  • Co-captain of 1986 team
  • Starter for Finnish national team

Before BYU

  • Came to BYU after playing two years for the Finnish national team

Post BYU Honors and Societies

  • Inducted into the BYU Hall of Fame 2000


1985 | Junior Year

  • Named High Country Athletic Conference Player of the Year
  • Selected to the HCAC First Team
  • Named to the College Volleyball Coaches Association All-America Second Team
  • Named to the Volleyball Monthly All-America Third Team
  • Her match-record nine aces in a game against Utah are a feat that has been equaled twice
  • Her all-around play helped BYU reach the final eight of the NCAA Tournament

1986 | Senior Year

  • Named High Country Athletic Conference Player of the Year
  • Selected to the HCAC First Team
  • Named First Team All-America by both the CVCA and Volleyball Monthly
  • Named to the CVCA All-Northwest Region NCAA Division I First Team
  • Selected as Northwest Player of the Year
  • Recipient of the Leona Holbrook Spirit of Sport Award
  • Had 640 kills on the season (fourth on BYU’s all-time single-season list)
  • Helped BYU to a No. 1 spot in the CVCA poll marking the first time a BYU women’s team had been ranked No. 1 in any sport
  • Recorded 104 service aces for an average of .912 aces per game, both are single-season records
  • Ranks second only to Hall of Fame inductee Dylann Duncan Ceriani in total service aces
  • Sari recorded just 191 aces in two years of play, with a record career average of 0.67 aces per game