40 in 40 - Sarah Powers Barnhard
Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Title IX, wmubroncos.com takes a look at 40 key moments/females in the history of women's athletics at Western Michigan University. Though the selection process, an effort was made to highlight a moment and player/coach from each of our current women's sports programs, as well pay respect to our women's legacy sports. A different feature will be released each of the 40 days, July 24 through Sept. 1.
Sarah Powers Barnhard
Volleyball: 1983-86WMU Athletic Hall of Fame: 1997
WMU Volleyball All-Decade Team 1984-93
The Western Michigan volleyball program was the dominant presence in the Mid-American Conference in the 1980s. When dealing with a team that produced a 99-match conference win streak that began in 1982 and continued until 1989, as well as a stretch of eight consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, it's hard to focus on one player's contributions as greater than others.
All that said, WMU Athletics Hall of Famer Sarah Powers Barnhard sits on top of a short list in Bronco volleyball history, with her national recognition placing her in elite company with her contemporaries.
Barnhard rates as the program's only three-time All-American, earning Volleyball Monthly honors in 1984 and 1986, as well as a College Volleyball Coaches' Association nod in 1985. An accomplished middle blocker who was named First Team All-MAC in 1984-85 and Second Team All-MAC in 1983 and 1986, Barnhard was part of Broncos teams that went 70-0 in the MAC and won four MAC Championships, appeared in four NCAA Championships and achieved an overall record of 110-22.
With Barnhard in the fold, the Broncos were a dominant force in the conference, and helped make Read Fieldhouse the hottest ticket it town. Partly because of the Broncos' team successes during the time period, the NCAA saw fit to have Western Michigan host NCAA Tournament rounds throughout the 1980's, including the 1985 national championship match.
Barnhard graduated with school records for kills (1,387), digs (964), and points (1725.5), and her total of 173 career service aces still stands as the school record. In 1994, she was one of seven Broncos named to the All-Decade team for 1984-93, and she was inducted into the WMU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.
Barnhard's recognition went beyond collegiate volleyball; in 1989, she was named to the U.S. National Junior Volleyball Team.