Volleyball's Barnes Grows to Love Her Kentucky Home

Growing up near the busy streets of Philadelphia, Sharay Barnes never imagined she might fall in love with life in the country. But after four years in the Kentucky volleyball program, she can’t imagine having it any other way.

During her recruiting process in high school, it was Barnes’ mother who first developed a love for Kentucky. It took a little bit longer for the younger Barnes to come around. But once she did, she developed a love for the Bluegrass as well.

“I love it here, I wouldn’t mind living here,” Barnes said. 

But after making the decision to come to Kentucky, Barnes hit a minor snag. She was having trouble getting admitted to Kentucky. However, with the help of her high school guidance counselor, she got in. And when Barnes earns her Bachelor of Arts in Family Science, she eventually wants to return the favor by also becoming a guidance counselor herself.

On the court, Barnes praises her Kentucky coaching staff, saying they stayed true to themselves during the whole recruiting process, as well as during her career. From her senior year in high school to her senior year in college, Barnes said the Kentucky coaches have been nothing short of amazing and helped her grow into the young woman she is today. 

Kentucky Head Volleyball Coach Craig Skinner also had kind words for Barnes. "Sharay is someone that has grown, matured and worked hard and no matter what role we've asked her to take on,” Skinner said. “She's absolutely committed to doing it the best she can. She's going to be one of the first, if not the first, ever to graduate from college in her family. As a staff, we're very proud to see where Sharay was four or five years ago when we recruited her to where she is now. We're also exceptionally proud of the way she has competed and replaced Brooke (Morgan) when she was out this season."
Barnes, who has recorded a hitting percentage over .300 both this season and last, reminisced over her most memorable moment at Kentucky, which came during her freshman season in 2013. Early in that campaign, the Wildcats earned a 3-2 win over Minnesota after a tough loss to Pepperdine. 

Asked what advice she would give to younger players, Barnes didn’t hesitate. “Be patient, no matter what, your time is coming,” she said. “Always work hard. Focus on your work, focus on volleyball and you’ll be great.” 

And for the city girl who came to love Kentucky, great can also describe Barnes’ experience in the Bluegrass.