For The Tribune
Haylee Barker was able to play volleyball with her sister for one year at Trinity Lutheran, when she was a freshman and Hannah was a senior.
This upcoming fall, the two plan on reuniting on the court.
The Barkers will have a chance to be teammates again next fall at Indiana University Southeast, as Haylee signed a letter last week to play where Hannah will be a senior.
“I feel once my sister leaves I can take her spot and have as many accomplishments as she’s had,” Haylee said. “They are sending me a workout that I have to do for offseason. That includes weight training, and there is a setter ball that I have to work with to get stronger.”
The two were teammates at Trinity for the 2012 season.
“It was the first year I got to play with her, and it was good,” Barker said. “We played the same position. I learned a lot from her, she taught me a lot. It was a really neat experience to get to play with my sister.”
“My mother (Laura) was a coach, and my sister started playing volleyball so I was around volleyball (at Immanuel Lutheran School).”
Barker was a four-year varsity starter for the Cougars.
“I played opposite Hannah, who was the setter,” Barker said. “I played all around and I hit right side out of the front row. My sophomore and junior year I hit and played right side, and I switched my senior year.”
Chelsea Stroub, Haylee’s coach at Trinity this past fall, said, “She can do a lot for their program, setting and hitting, so I’m excited for her and for them. She’s a great athlete.
“She’ll bring a lot of leadership even though she’s a freshman, and I think it’s great too that she’ll be down there with her sister. (Hannah) will be a big confidence booster.
“I actually coached Haylee when she was 12 in club volleyball (and as an assistant coach at Trinity her sophomore and junior years). I’ve known her for a long time and she has come a long way.”
Eric Brian just completed his third season as head volleyball coach of the Grenadiers this fall and led them to a record of 18-17.
“(Barker) is talented in a lot of different ways,” he said. “Obviously, she’s a talented setter, but also she can hit. She’s got a lot of opportunity to contribute in multiple ways.”
He said Haylee is mostly being recruited as a setter, but can fulfill multiple roles for the team.
“Obviously, her older sister has done a great job for us this year as a setter, and Haylee is talented in that position,” Brian said.
“It’s nice that she is versatile. We could use her in other ways, but primarily as a setter. Her sister has a talent for being really strong. She has great upper body strength, which makes her a great setter, so strength is something Haylee is going to have to work on. She is probably also quicker than Hannah, so they each have different talents.”
One of Brian’s draws towards Barker was her knowledge of the game.
“I think any player that is forced into playing multiple positions, particularly in the same set which Haylee does, she sets out of a couple rotations, she plays defense out of one rotation, she hits out of other rotations (is valuable),” Brian said.
“I think compared to most players, that gives her a unique perspective on how the game is played, and they typically have a higher volleyball IQ, so we’re looking forward to seeing that at the next level.
This past fall, Barker was a captain for the sectional champion Cougars.
“It made me proud that the coach made me a captain,” Barker said. “There is a lot of responsibility because you need to be a leader. I had to lead drills and I had to get teammates up if they were down.
“I want to work on my leadership, and also getting stronger.”
She said she chose IUS partly because of its location (New Albany) and partly because of her sister playing there.
“It will be nice for my family, for everybody to get to watch us girls,” Barker said. “It’s a close commute, and I really like the campus for my major (nursing). I’ll be living with my sister. I’ve always wanted to follows what she has done (play college volleyball).”
The Cougars won 21 matches this fall, and Barker said it was always important to win the first set.
“The first set was a momentum getter,” Barker said. “If you win the first set than if gives you a big lift mentally. You go on runs, and runs are really big.
“Communication is the No. 1 thing. On setting, the back row will tell me where to set, and after the play they need to tell the setter if it was a good set or if something needs to change. It takes all six players to win.”
Barker played club ball during her middle school and high school years, locally and in New Albany and Louisville, was a big help to her high school career.
“It taught me a lot, especially at KIVA (travel team) where I learned a lot about leadership and communication,” Barker said. “It helped me during the off season to improve my skills.”
Club ball tryouts were held in November and the club tournaments began in January and ended in June.
“I went to the nationals in Florida for four years,” Barker said. “When I was 16 my team went to Texas and we won that tournament, and we got second in Florida. We went to Wisconsin one year, so we traveled a lot.”
Barker played for two coaches at Trinity, Chelsey Hackman and Stroub.
“This year we had a lot more structure and a lot of rules. We had star circles and little sisters and things like that and we did different drills in practice,” Barker said.
She helped the Cougars win three sectionals over her career.
Parents: Tom and Laura Barker
Sports: volleyball 4 years, softball 2 years, basketball 1 year, cheerleading 1 year
Athletic honors: 2012 Final Four, 3 sectional championships, academic all-state honorable mention, 1A-2A all-star team, second team all-state, all-county team, team MVP, team captain, selected to 2015 all-star game
Organizations: National Honor Society, Future Farmers of America, Student Ambassador, 4H
Plans after high school: attend Indiana University Southeast, play volleyball and major in nursing
Favorite food: Mexican food (queso)
Favorite TV show: “Say Yes to the Dress,” “The Bachelor”
Favorite singer: Luke Bryan
Favorite movie: “A Cinderella Story”
Q: Where is your favorite away gym?
A: “We didn’t play there this year but my favorite gym was Christian Academy. They pretty much brought their whole school and we brought our whole school. We played down there our freshman year and junior year in the regional.”
Q: Did you prefer morning or night matches?
A: “I liked the night matches because our cheer section would come with us, and on the weekend matches were early and a lot of people didn’t get awake by then.”
Q: What’s it like attending Trinity Lutheran?
“I like the small atmosphere. Everybody here is a family and we can talk about God and spread His word. I’m going to remember my friends and all the memories here. I got to play with my sister, and my two cousins (Mallory and Courtney).”