It may be a bit redundant to again say that Mekana Barnes stood out for the CSU volleyball team, but no one on the Rams squad seems to mind. The Rams dropped rival Colorado 25-23, 25-23, 19-25, 25-16 Wednesday night in Boulder, and it was Barnes’ play that drove the Rams.
“I want to be a go-to player, if that’s what they need me to do,” said Barnes, who tallied 15 kills and a season-high nine blocks. “If I am doing that, and Ashley (Fornstrom) is getting me the ball high, then that gives me the opportunity to score a lot of points.”
Barnes’ teammates were impressed with her ability to take over matches, even if they are accustomed to it.
“I really feel like Mekana played well for us tonight, of course she always plays really well for us,” said senior setter Ashley Fornstrom, who led the Rams with 45 assists. “I felt like she was a really good leader for us tonight. Every time she was on the court we were scoring points. Props to her, she kept us in the match tonight.”
The crucial moment in the match for the came in the second set, when the Rams, after never trailing in their first set win, saw CU hold a seemingly insurmountable 23-19 advantage. CSU (6-1) then went on a 6-0 run to win the set, a run which outside hitter Jacque Davisson started with a kill and an ace, and Barnes finished off with a block and two kills for the final three points of the set.
“Jacque (Davisson) and Mekana were huge for us in the second set,” head coach Tom Hilbert said. “This match would have been totally different if we had not come back in that set. Mekana made some big plays and Jacque had some great serves which was key.”
If it wasn’t for Barnes’ dominating play, Davisson may have been the story for the Rams, as she played a very emotional game for the Rams, celebrating good plays with screams of joy and punching a ball in frustration after a mistake.
“This was CU, our in-state rival,” Davisson said, who led the Rams with 38 total attacks and chipped in nine kills. “I don’t really understand this rivalry, as I am only a sophomore, but I think that there was definitely that energy from the upperclassmen that this was a big game. I just really felt (the importance) coming from the coaches and the upperclassmen.”
The loss was the first for the Buffs (6-1) this season, and they felt they let their opportunities to win the match slip away.
“They are the toughest team we have played, the most consistent. They came out to play and so did we, but we just didn’t have the mental thing tonight,” Colorado sophomore Schylur Edelman said, who led the Buffs with 13 kills and eight blocks.
The Rams were happy with their victory, but they can’t rest, as up next are two tough games, Friday with North Carolina, and Saturday against No. 8 Florida.
Volleyball beat writer Matt Pucak can be reached at email@example.com.