The Ohio State women’s volleyball team has won three of its last four Big Ten matches — including wins over No. 19 Minnesota and No. 22 Northwestern — and junior middle blocker Kelli Barhorst is a big reason why.
“She’s having a great year,” OSU coach Geoff Carlston said. “She’s been really consistent.”
Heading into their Oct. 15 match against Iowa, the Buckeyes were 2-4 in conference play and needed a win to stay alive in the Big Ten hunt.
They got the win behind dominant play by Barhorst with 18 points, including a career-high 14 kills. The next night against Minnesota, Barhorst again led the Buckeye charge with 14.5 points and 11 kills.
Barhorst’s play helped the Buckeyes climb back to 4-4 in conference play and made her Big Ten Player of the Week on Oct. 18.
“Being Big Ten Player of the Week, it’s pretty cool,” Barhorst said. “It’s a great honor to have.”
Barhorst’s teammates are the first to point out how well she has played.
“She’s just terminating the ball, she’s hitting angles,” senior outside hitter Anna Szerszen said. “She’s seeing the block really well.”
Other teams are taking notice of Barhorst as well. However, on Oct. 20, No. 9 Penn State held Barhorst to only 3 points in a 3-0 victory over OSU.
“They did a nice job serving-wise and tactically to keep the ball away from her and put her in frustrating situations,” Carlston said.
Barhorst knows that teams will adjust to her and she is going to have to adjust to them as well.
“Now I’m going to step up my game because people know what I can do,” Barhorst said.
She adjusted quickly and in the Buckeye’s latest victory at Northwestern, she recorded 10.5 points and 9 kills.
Barhorst’s recent success is also attributed to those getting her the ball.
“The setters are being very deceptive and they’re setting her really well,” Szerszen said.
Senior setter Betsy Hone said that she and Barhorst have been playing together since she was 16 years old and she never feels out-of-sync with Barhorst.
With the win over Northwestern the Buckeyes are 5-5 in Big Ten play and right in the thick of things in the conference race.
Whether Barhorst is leading the team in points, or opening up opportunities for other players, her play as of late is huge for the Buckeyes.
“I’m excited for her,” Carlston said. “She’s worked really hard to be there.”