Junior Angela Barbera was just named this week’s Ivy League Volleyball Player of the Week for both her performance in two weekend victories against Dartmouth and Harvard and her solid, consistent play throughout the season. This award is a first for Barbera, a transfer student from Boise State, who lettered twice for the Broncos.
As the only newcomer playing on the team — the sole freshman, Katherine Conrad, is out for the season with a torn ACL — Barbera has achieved beyond expectations. She has averaged 5.43 kills per game on .354 hitting while helping the Red to a 13-5 record –good enough for first place in the Ivy League.
She set career highs against Dartmouth, with 20 kills and 15 digs on .366 hitting, in a four game win. Against Harvard, she added 18 kills and five digs on .342 hitting to sweep the Crimson and keep the Red blazing with five straight Ivy wins. It has also racked up 11 victories in its last 12 overall to lead what may be Cornell’s hottest team towards an Ivy championship.
Coming from Boise State, Barbera has had little problems with a new system here at Cornell. In the words of coach Christie Jackson, “I used to be worried, but now I don’t have to be worried anymore. She’s just worked her tail off since day one.”
Interestingly, Barbera knew very little about Cornell before transferring. She explained, “Time was passing by when I made this decision, and I just didn’t have enough time to make it. I grew up in Idaho, and I wasn’t sure coming out of high school to go [to college] in state, but I’ve always heard good things about Cornell.”
But why Ithaca, out of all the possible places outside of Idaho?
“I was doing some research, and I found that [coach Jackson] played [collegiately] in Idaho,” she said.
Because of NCAA rules, Jackson wasn’t able to talk on the phone with Barbera until shortly before she decided to transfer.
“She basically recruited herself,” Jackson said. “I was actually teammates with her high school coach, but I knew almost nothing about [Barbera], I had never really seen her play. I thought she was crazy. I hoped it would work out; then one day she said she was coming, and I’m like, ‘okay.'”
Jackson continued, “There’s only so much you can know from e-mails, and I was taking a chance. I didn’t know a lot about her as a player, and I was worried about bringing in any negative changes in attitude to the team.”
When all was settled, however, it was soon clear that everything was going to work out fine. Jackson remembers her first impressions: “She came out in August, and on the first day she was beating out seniors. Our team just took her in; the whole team just loved her.”
“It wasn’t a tough transition at all,” Barbera recounted. “I was lost, just like any other new student. But it was like I had 12 instant friends with my teammates.”
But what does she think of Cornell volleyball so far?
“[The Ivy games] are awesome,” Barbera exclaimed, “with no Ivy League tournament this year, every match counts towards the Ivy title. Ivy matches pump us up even more. It’s like everyone is rivals with everyone else, it’s great.”
Both coach and player agree that Barbera has been solidly consistent all year. “It’s nice to see them give the award to somebody that’s been consistent rather than to someone who had a fluke game,” Jackson said. And if her play has been any indication, Barbera is certainly not just a flash in the pan.
After making the transition to the left outside from the right, Barbera is thriving there. Jackson noted, “It took her some time to get going,” laughing in between words. “She was horrible in the preseason, and I was like ‘oh, no,’ but it’s all worked out.”
When asked if the upcoming match against Brown (4-2 Ivy, 9-9 overall) is a big deal, Barbera answered, “It’s the same mentality. You have to take it one game at a time. But we were both ranked highly, and we want to show them why we belong higher in the rankings.”
So, with strange twists of fate, Barbera has come as an unknown talent from Boise State and risen to a leader on a first place Cornell squad which looks to contend for the Ivy title.
So was getting the Ivy League Player of the Week surprising?
“Yeah,” answered Barbera, “I was really excited.”
Jackson begged to differ.
“Not really,” she said, “It’s about time. She deserved it.”
Archived article by Matt Nassr