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2019 Position Preview: Defensive Specialists/Liberos

LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech head volleyball coach Tony Graystone kicks off a series of position previews with a look at the squad’s defensive specialists and liberos for the 2019 season.

SENIORS – Kylie Rittimann & Maggie Sagers
Rittimann enters her final season in the scarlet and black after making 16 starts and 30 appearances as a junior. The San Antonio native developed into a key rotation player on the back row and ranked third on the team with 248 digs on the year. Rittimann posted 10 double-digit dig performances in 2018, including five during Big 12 play, and collected a career-best 23 digs against Kansas State on Oct. 3.

After suffering a knee injury in 2017, Sagers returned to the court as a redshirt sophomore in 2018. She appeared in 13 matches, averaged 1.54 digs per set over 26 sets for the season, all while racking up 40 digs and a pair service aces. The Plano, Texas, native will not use her redshirt year and will spend her final season on the team this year.

JUNIOR – Emerson Solano
Serving as Tech’s primary libero, Solano started all 30 matches and ranked second in the Big 12 with 4.06 digs per set as a sophomore. Her 442 digs on the year ranked No. 10 in the school record book for digs per season and she helped limit opponents to a .198 hitting percentage for the 2018 season. Solano finished her sophomore campaign with 22 double-digit dig performances and tallied a career-high 22 digs at Houston Baptist on Sept. 14.

SOPHOMORES – Kiari Gier & Katy Northcut
Gier took on an increased role as her freshman year rolled along and appeared in 16 matches on the back row. She recorded a season-high 11 digs in the Red Raiders’ victory over Texas Southern (Sept. 15) and recorded a pair of service aces against Texas Southern and Baylor (Nov. 12).

Assuming a solid defensive role in her first season with the Red Raiders, Northcut made 11 starts and appeared in 29 of 30 matches in 2018. The Leader, Texas, native collected 145 digs on the season – which ranked fifth on the team – and tied for third on the team with 16 service aces.

FRESHMEN – Lindsey Dodson & Audrey Tuttle
A three-year letterwinner at Rider High School, Dodson looks to make an impact after earning 2018 District 4-5A Defensive Player of the Year honors. As a senior, she helped Rider to district and area titles, as well a trip to the Regional Quarterfinals. Her Lady Raiders posted a 34-8 overall record and a perfect 8-0 mark in district play. Dodson received All-District Honorable Mention nods as a sophomore and junior and was named a team captain for her club team that reached the finals of the 2018 USAV Girls’ 18s Junior National Championships.

Tuttle, an early enrollee who trained all spring with the Red Raiders, posted a stellar four-year career at George Ranch High School in Sugar Land, Texas. She was named an AVCA Under Armour All-American as a senior and also earned 2018 TAVC 6A All-State laurels. Honored as a member of the GHVCA Fab 50 team in 2017 and 2018, Tuttle was named the 2018 District 23-6A Player of the Year and landed on the All-District First Team for the fourth straight year. As a senior, Tuttle led her squad to a 39-9 overall record and a trip to the Regional Semifinals.

LOOKING AHEAD
The Red Raiders are set to begin their 2019 campaign against VCU in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday, Aug. 30.


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