Rest is rare for Niles’ Kelsey Barton

Published 12:17 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Niles’ Kelsey Barton rarely leaves the court for the Vikings’ volleyball team. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

Niles’ Kelsey Barton rarely leaves the court for the Vikings’ volleyball team. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

In order to find the best lineup, a volleyball coach makes moves during a match.

Niles volleyball player Kelsey Barton makes that job much easier for her coach Jenny Nate.

Rest is rare for the 5-foot-9 senior.

“Every once in awhile I’ll come out when I’m in the front row and one of the underclassmen will come in to hit,” said Barton. “It’s rare for that happen.”

Barton played the entire time for the Vikings in their three wins on Sept. 16 against Battle Creek Lakeview (25-13, 25-11), Battle Creek Central (25-10, 25-6) and Gull Lake (25-19, 25-14) at the SMAC 6-Pack Tournament at Niles High School.

The standout setter totaled 57 assists, nine kills, six digs and three service aces during the tournament.

Barton’s consistent play and leadership are the reasons why Nate is reluctant to sit Barton.

“All the way around she’s needed,” said Nate. “She brings a focus and a determination to the team. The girls look up to her.

“In the classroom she also gets it done. She has a 4.0 grade-point average. She works as hard on her academics as she does on the court. That determination feeds over to the other players.”

Barton has evolved into an elite volleyball player during her four years as a starter on the varsity. She was a right-side hitter as a freshman and a setter the last three years.

Barton worked a lot on her offense while playing travel ball during the offseason and in practices she sharpened her hitting skills.
“Running a 6-2 this year has allowed her to get time in as an offensive player,” Nate said. “She’s not just setting, but hitting as well. She has also worked intensely on her defense and it showed (at the 6-pack tournament). They were attacking the setter a little bit and she was there with the digs.

“She quite a mult-tasker.”

Barton likes being versatile. “I feel I can help the team out in a lot of ways,” she said. “I’m a lot better hitter than I used to be. But everyone on the team has a lot to bring to the table.”

A team captain along with Lexi Smith, Barton likes the team chemistry this year. That strong bond between players helped Niles win 17 of its first 22 matches.

“We take charge, sometimes, but really there’s no drama we have to take care of,” Barton said about the captain’s role. I think we played really well (at the 6-pack tournament) compared to where we were 10 days ago. We had a long break and that would bring most teams down. But we really stepped it up and everyone did well.”

Win or lose, Barton will have fun playing volleyball. A sport she’s played since she was in the third grade.

“I just love playing and being in the gym,” Barton said. “It’s a good place for me to be at.”