She’s done it again. For third time in the opening five weeks, middle blocker Mekana Barnes has been named Mountain West Volleyball Player of the Week.
Barnes became the only player in the history of the Mountain West to earn the honor three times in a single season. With 41 kills and 23 blocks, even coach Tom Hilbert continues to be impressed.
“From athletic standpoint, she’s the best player I’ve ever had, especially in terms of bringing it to the court every night,” Hilbert said.
The star junior had a career match on Friday night against the Utah Utes. Along with her season-high 23 kills, she broke the Mountain West record for blocks in a single match on Friday with 19. Loosing the match 3-1, Hilbert was just disappointed that it couldn’t have ended in a victory.
“I was just surprised she could handle herself having that many blocks and us loosing,” Hilbert said. “It was unbelievable because she played her butt off in that match. I don’t know if we will ever see that again. I hope we will, but that’s just incredible.”
Her 18 kills and four blocks were also key when they upset the then-ranked No. 17 BYU Cougars.
“She had moments against BYU when she was very dominant,” Hilbert said. “She takes a lot of attention from other players, which helps everyone else on the court.”
Now Hilbert can only hope and dream that Barnes will continue to play at such a high level.
“I just hope she can maintain this consistently. It’s unrealistic to expect that every night, but if she can play like that at critical times, that’s what we need.”
Volleyball beat reporter Brandon Owens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.