This is the third installment of "Cat Trax," a series of feature stories that will periodically appear on the UNH athletics Web site.
By Anthony DeAngelis, UNH Athletic Media Relations
DURHAM, N.H. – The last time Erin Walker and Stacy Barnett were together at the University of New Hampshire, the two helped lead the New Hampshire volleyball team to the first of two straight America East Championships.
It’s been five years since and for the Wildcats, that season would mark the last time then Assistant Coach Barnett and attacker Walker would join together to help lead UNH to prominence.
However, with the recent hiring of Walker as a graduate assistant coach, the program reunites the two, as they look to recreate the same magic from that historic 2002 season in which they dominated the competition with 23-11 record.
“She was thrilled and we were thrilled,” said Barnett, who is currently the Associate Head Coach for the Wildcats. “She played for Jill and me and that was a real advantage.”
Walker graduated from UNH in 2006 as one of most successful hitters in program history. She ranks third all-time in both kills (1,280), and attack attempts (3,524), and eighth all-time in blocks with 207.
Her best single season came in 2003 during the Wildcats’ championship run when she posted 431 kills, a total that ranks fifth all-time among single-season marks in program history.
Upon graduation, Walker would take her talents overseas as she would go on to pursue a professional career with SWE Volleyball-Team in Erfurt, Germany. However, after being picked up on an international tour with the team, Walker decided she wanted to end her professional career and pursue coaching.
“It’s great to come back to the game and get into coaching,” said Walker. “It’s nice to see the other side of things.”
As for Barnett, she enters her second season as an Associate Head Coach with the Wildcats after serving two years as an Assistant Coach with the staff and an additional two years as a graduate assistant coach at the University of Delaware.
However, in addition to helping lead the Wildcats to the 2002 America East Championship, her expertise also played a key role in the team’s turnaround season last year, as UNH posted an impressive 19-9 record after suffering three losing seasons.
As a player, Barnett was equally impressive as she helped lead New Hampshire to their first America East Championship in 1998. The former setter is also the program’s all-time assist leader with 3,977, a total that ranks more than 1,700 assists ahead of current setter Kate Uitti (Pinckney, Mich.), who sits second on the all-time list.
Barnett, winner of the Most Valuable Player award in 2000, was the first player to post 3,000 assists and the third player in the 1,000-dig club. In addition to her all-time assist mark, she also holds the top-two single-season assists marks with 1,350 in 2000 and 1,291 in 1999.
However, reuniting both Barnett and Walker not only brings two of the most successful players in UNH history together again, but it also instills the winning tradition the team possessed during their span of dominance in the America East from 1997 to 2003.
During that span, the Wildcats compiled an impressive record of 158-76. What’s more is between both Walker and Barnett, the two have appeared in a total of six America East Championship games and collected three America East Championships.
“I think it’s good to have both of us on the staff,” said Walker. “We have the pride for the program and we’ve experienced both sides of the game.”
Bringing pride back to the program is nothing new for the volleyball team as the hiring of Walker now marks the third former UNH Volleyball player to be named to the coaching staff alongside Head Coach Jill Hirschinger and Barnett. For Barnett, she believes that is no coincidence.
“Not every program has all former players as coaches,” said Barnett. “I think that speaks a lot to the kind of coach Jill is.”