How Michelle Urquhart went from Tulane to Iowa volleyball

The sophomore outside hitter transferred from the Green Wave after new head coach Jim Barnes joined the Hawkeye program.


Isabella Cervantes

A player serves the ball during an Iowa women’s volleyball media conference and scrimmage at Xtream Arena in Coralville on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022.

Kenna Roering, Sports Reporter

Iowa volleyball outside hitter Michelle Urquhart is one of the nine newcomers on the 2022 squad. The 6-foot-1 Virginia Beach native has made a quick impact on the Hawkeyes, but she has a storied volleyball journey.

Urquhart started playing volleyball at around 7-years-old, and her love for the sport continued as she started playing in a recreational league. After Urquhart’s coach motivated her to keep playing, she joined a travel volleyball team — the East Coast Volleyball Academy.

She started with ECVC on the 15s squad and played with them until she left to pursue her academic and volleyball career at Tulane.

Along with travel ball, Urquhart attended Kempsville High School in Virginia Beach. She was a two-year team captain and three-year letter-winner, also earning first-team All-State, first-team All-Region, and Region Player of the Year her junior season.

Urquhart said her recruitment was a long process, and she was a late addition to Tulane’s 2021 signing class. But Tulane is where she met Iowa volleyball’s new head coach, Jim Barnes.

“Me and him have a really good relationship,” Urquhart said about Barnes. “There’s not a bad bone in his body. Everything he does, it’s always with a smile on his face. He’s always trying to make us better.”

Barnes spent six seasons as Tulane’s head coach from 2016-21, posting a 61-42 record. Urquhart joined him in his last season with the Green Wave, and she started 31 of 32 matches as a true freshman, recording 341 kills and 235 digs. She led the team with 41 service aces, putting her third in the American Athletic Conference in 2021.

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In December 2021, Iowa announced Barnes as its new head coach. In January 2022, Urquhart transferred to Iowa to reunite with Barnes.

Urquhart is one of two Tulane transfers that joined the Hawkeye program alongside Iowa team captain and junior middle hitter Anna Davis. In total, Barnes brought in seven transfers to make up the 2022 squad.

Urquhart’s familiarity and relationship with Barnes made the transfer a lot easier, she said. Meeting her teammates motivated her for the season.

“The transfer coming over with him was really good,” Urquhart said. “And meeting everyone here and seeing everyone want to put in so much work and get better really motivated me to want to do better for everybody else.”

Urquhart has already become a staple in Iowa’s lineup, as she can play all six rotations. Barnes said Urquhart will be someone the Hawkeyes rely on a lot, but she is prepared for the challenge.

Through four games this season, Urquhart has 47 kills and 2.93 kills per set — leading the Hawkeyes in both categories.

“She’s just an incredible kid and person,” Barnes said. “We are going to rely on her a good bit. She plays six rotations all around … does every skill. She’s one of those kids that every team has that they rely a lot on, and she’s got the mentality to do it. Bright future for her.”