FORT WAYNE, Ind. (BVM) – Eva Hudson is a special volleyball player. That has become well known in Indiana, and even nationally over the last several years. After committing to Purdue earlier this year, Hudson is ready to prove her talent on both the local and national stages once again.
Growing up, Hudson may have never imagined her future would be in volleyball. She had played soccer for most of her life, but when she was 11, her mom recommended she give volleyball a try.
Playing with Fort Wayne Volleyball Club, Hudson fell in love with the sport.
“I just love the people,” Hudson said. “My first coaches were amazing … It just had more of a fun feel.”
Not only had her passion grown, but her talent was evident, perhaps not all that surprisingly. Hudson’s mom, Stacey, is a former volleyball standout who also went on to play in college at Purdue.
Stacey was a bit of a late bloomer herself in the sport, not playing volleyball until her eighth grade year and not really considering college volleyball until she was a senior in high school. Going on to play for the Boilermakers, Stacey has had plenty of wisdom and knowledge to instill in Eva over the years.
“She’s just always been a role model to me,” Eva said. “She’s just a very optimistic person and has definitely been there throughout all my hardships. I just really admire both her academic and athletic successes.”
Stacey has also been able to mentor her younger daughter, Audrey, on the volleyball court, as has Eva. Growing up together in the game, Eva and Audrey have gotten to play high school volleyball together at Bishop Dwenger over the last couple of years, making an already close bond even tighter.
“It’s awesome because we started out on the same team together and going to volleyball camps together,” Eva said. “It’s actually very fitting that we ended our high school career together. I hope I’m a great role model to her. I know she’s able to come to me with different obstacles that she faced in a game or hardships with teammates. She’s able to talk to me and learn how I get through some of those situations as well … It’s just awesome to be able to relate to her in almost every aspect of our life, especially in volleyball. I think that just made our relationship so much stronger.”
While playing together in their youth, Eva began realizing she had a talent that could lead her to a successful high school career and perhaps beyond someday. That realization has not stopped over the last couple years while playing for Munciana Volleyball.
“Munciana has been absolutely amazing for me,” Eva said. “Every single person there has the same goal, has the same drive, which has really taken me places in my athletic career that I never would’ve known.”
One of those places was winning an AAU national championship in 2020. A year later, Eva was named an AAU All-American.
“It was awesome, I’m so honored,” Eva said. “It’s definitely built my confidence, but I know that I just need to continue to grind. Those are awesome, but you have to keep moving forward.”
Meanwhile, Eva has also found plenty of success with Bishop Dwenger. As a freshman, she played both JV and varsity, going undefeated with her JV team and acclimating to the higher-level game of the varsity level.
That experience led to an improved sophomore season where Eva won the Glass Spike Award as the best player in the Summit Athletic Conference, becoming the first sophomore to ever do so.
“I feel like sophomore year I really broke out of my shell and had improved a lot since the last season,” Eva said. “It was awesome to have not only my family’s support, but my teammates’ support and even my peers from class were there to support.
“For the Glass Spike Award, I had no idea it was a thing at first. But it was really a big confidence booster for the next two years.”
Once again, the outside hitter’s prior high school season set the stage for reaching new heights in the following one. Going into her junior year, the Saints had an experienced team that had been playing together for quite some time. That combined with spectacular play from Eva led Bishop Dwenger all the way to state.
Once there, the Saints were confident they could get the job done.
“It wasn’t until I stepped on the court that I got a little nervous, for sure,” Eva said. “But I knew my teammates had my back and no matter the outcome we’d be proud we were there and were fighting.”
Some of those nerves may have kicked in early for the Saints, but they would eventually settle in during what turned out to be a dramatic championship match with Brebeuf Jesuit. After Brebeuf took the first two sets, the Saints faced match point in the third set but rallied to win 27-25, won the fourth set 25-15, and again faced match point in the fifth set, yet still pulled off the incredible comeback with a 17-15 set win. Eva had 33 kills in the title match, the most ever in a championship match in Indiana.
“It was very exciting and very nerve-racking at the same time,” Eva said. “We had a few match points on us, but I think the seniors came together and pulled all of us together and just said, ‘No, we’re not going out this way.’ And we did it, and that’s awesome. When we won, it was almost like a feeling of relief. We had done it, this was our main goal and just to be able to achieve it, not many people can say they’ve achieved it in any of their careers.”
Eva and her Bishop Dwenger teammates continued to build off the state championship last fall, going an impressive 30-2. However, one of those two losses sadly came in sectionals, ending Eva’s brilliant high school career.
“It was definitely a success, even if it wasn’t all the way to state,” Eva said about her final season. “We definitely put Bishop Dwenger volleyball on the map. I hope I brought Bishop Dwenger and my family pride with what I’ve done on and off the court.”
The 6-foot-1 outside hitter finished her high school career with an impressive 1,557 kills, 811 digs and 264 blocks. Anyone that has watched Eva play knows she brings tremendous passion and energy to the court, but is also a team-oriented player. Those are two of the biggest traits that had colleges interested in her early on in her high school career.
Initially, Eva planned to stay close to home as she committed to join Notre Dame back in her junior year.
“Notre Dame, it just seemed like the perfect place,” Eva said. “The coach was great, he was definitely building the program. We had talent in my class coming in, it was very exciting. It’s Notre Dame education that will help you no matter what in life.”
Two of Eva’s biggest supporters, her grandparents, also live very close to the Notre Dame campus.
However, things changed at the end of last year after head coach Mike Johnson was relieved of his duties at Notre Dame. Salima Rockwell was hired in his place, and Eva knows the future is bright for the Fighting Irish under her leadership. However, Eva decided to take a step back and look at all of her options again before making a final decision.
Ultimately, that decision led her to a different part of the state, as she committed to head to West Lafayette and join the Purdue Boilermakers.
Welcome to the family,
Eva Hudson! ✍️
— Purdue Volleyball (@PurdueVB) March 15, 2022
“It was just better for me to take a step back and decommit and re-evaluate all of my options,” Eva explained. “As time went on, Purdue was always my No. 2, and as I got to reconnect with the coaches and the players, they were totally welcoming. I’ve grown up a Purdue fan because of my mom, it’s just awesome that I can continue that legacy. The competitive atmosphere when I got in the gym just sold me even more. They all have that one goal, to win a national championship for the first time. I hope to be a part of that.”
Like her mom did at Purdue, Eva also plans to go into the medical field. But she will also be able to continue the family legacy on the court, something she relishes.
“It’s so special,” Eva said. “One of my main goals is just to make my parents proud. To be able to follow her footsteps exactly is just amazing. I think it’ll definitely ease the transition because she’s gone through it.”
Eva is prepared to take on and excel at any role she has at Purdue. She will also continue to work as hard as she can for a potential volleyball career post college. But as she heads into summer, she’s about to realize her true dream in West Lafayette.
“One of my dreams is to play Big Ten volleyball, and here I am about to do it,” Eva said. “I’m so excited.”