On the court, Mekana Barnes is having an amazing season, breaking records before the season is half over. Off the court, the junior psychology major is trying to balance everything else in her life.
Barnes, who was recently named Mountain West Player of the Week for the third time this season, explained that she was happy to receive the honor, but still wants more of herself.
“I wasn’t expecting any of them,” the middle blocker said. “I have high expectations of myself, but I think that is something that my teammates and coaches have to. As far as MWC stuff, that is just extra because my expectations are already high. So if I get it again I will be like ‘Oh, that’s cool’.”
Barnes is putting together the best season of her young career, recording 191 kills, a .406 hitting percentage and 86 blocks, which ranks her third in the nation. This is an impressive stat for someone who didn’t start playing volleyball until high school. All of her accomplishments have helped lead the Rams to an 8-4 record.
Katelin Batten, CSU’s libero and Barnes’s roommate, described the former three-sport athlete as really clean and has nothing but good things to say about her.
“Mekana is the most genuine person I have ever met,” the sophomore said. She has amazing character and gives her best in everything. We can sit and talk for hours and I look to her especially if I need someone to talk to.”
CSU volleyball coach Tom Hilbert is proud of the ThunderRidge graduate and has seen tremendous growth in her abilities during the three years he has coached her.
“She is a very powerful person who reserves her emotion for particular times when she feels it is worthy,” he said. “She has tremendous physical ability and she is beginning to control it. One thing people are missing is that she is an incredible kid who has really overcome some big odds.”
Barnes has been just as impressive when she is away from the volleyball court, serving as a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Council and working as a CSU presidential intern during the summers.
“It is a good experience working for the administration and getting to know people,” she said.
Although Hilbert is currently focusing on this season, he can still see things the 6-foot Barnes can do to get better by her senior year.
“I just take it one match at a time, but there are things she could improve on,” he said. “She could be a better hitter off of one foot in the future and she will have more variety of things she can do.”
Barnes agrees. Through all of her success, she still sees things she needs to fix after every match.
“You always judge what you did well and what you could have done better and things you didn’t do well you try and get better at,” she said. “I try and focus on what I need to do in every game and exactly what my job is.”
Barnes and the rest of the team will host San Diego State University 7 p.m. tonight at Moby Arena. The Rams have dominated the Aztecs recently, winning their last six meetings.
Volleyball beat reporter Adam Bohlmeyer can be reached at email@example.com
Barnes by the numbers
737- Career kills
316- Career blocks
69- Career service aces
5- Categories she leads the team in
3- Rank in the country in total blocks