Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
WHEELERSBURG — After setting a single-season blocks record and leading her team to a Division III state semifinal appearance, Wheelersburg’s Kylee Barney has taken the next step in an illustrious volleyball career.
Earlier this month, Barney made a commitment to play collegiately at Malone University, an NCAA Division II school.
“Malone is perfect for me. They have all the right things … smaller campus, great admissions staff, amazing coaches for volleyball, and they have what I’m majoring in Pre-Vet,” Barney said. “It’s just a perfect fit for me as a whole because I never wanted to go somewhere where I felt out of place in that sense. But there, it just felt like home and more comfortable for me to be there.”
As a junior last fall, Barney totaled a team-high 260 kills and a school record 108 blocks. The 6-foot-2 middle helped the Pirates finish 27-1 and win their first-ever regional title.
“Every single one of my family members has been there since day one of my volleyball career and being able to share my excitement with this great life goal is amazing,” Barney said. “My teammates couldn’t be any more supportive of me as a player. We all want each other to succeed in life after high school and we all support each other through everything.”
This year, with Wheelersburg at 5-1, Barney has picked up where she left off. Now a senior leader, she’s amassed 52 kills and 13 blocks in just 13 sets.
“[Wheelersburg] coach [Allen] Perry has helped me a lot through the recruiting process,” Barney said. “He started a recruiting profile for me and helped me make highlight videos for me to share. He saw potential in me as a player and knew I was able to make it to the college level. My club coach, Paul Tanedo, has also been there to help me if I have any questions about college volleyball and has helped me with reaching out to people.”
Malone is a program that finished the 2019 season at 10-22 overall and 5-7 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. After COVID revamped the Pioneers’ roster, Barney will have a shot at contributing upon arrival.
“When I get to the collegiate level, I’m looking forward to the adversity in a higher level of volleyball than I’m used to. I’m excited to meet new people and create bonds with new girls on the team just like at home with my high school team,” she said. “I’m looking forward to playing for such amazing coaches because they saw so much potential in me to play at the Division II level. They have been so nice to my family and myself, which has been one of the biggest reasons why they were always my top pick.”
Before she gets to Malone, Barney is focused on the task at hand.
Despite an early season conference loss to South Webster, the Pirates still have conference title aspirations and, of course, high postseason hopes.
Barney is at the center of that storm.
“I want to accomplish so many things for myself as a senior and for my team as well,” Barney said. “I want to be able to break my record that I broke last year, and the previous year, for blocks in a season. But as a team player, I want to achieve so much. I want to play volleyball and have fun. I want to keep winning games and make it as far as we can in the tournament. And hopefully, all of our hard work can pay off in the end and bring us back to where we left off last year so we can finish it.”