LUBBOCK, Texas – It was an exciting spring for the Texas Tech volleyball team as multiple members of the rising program shined on numerous stages. From spring competition to College National Team tryouts and foreign tours, the Red Raiders are pushing full steam ahead towards a promising 2019 season.

“The spring is always a transition,” head coach Tony Graystone explained. “You move on from last year’s team, seniors leave and new roles pop up. We’ve seen a lot of new leadership, as well as the style of play we’re going to have, with the personnel we’re going to have, moving into this new season.”

SPRING SEASON

Losing only three seniors from the 2018 season, the Red Raiders returned the bulk of its roster for the spring. Several student-athletes saw a significant increase in playing time and November signees Cadi Boyer and Audrey Tuttle were also thrown into the mix. 

The Red Raiders opened up spring play with a 3-0-1 outing at the third annual Texas Tech Spring Tournament where they posted wins over UTPB, Seward and West Texas A&M, as well as a split against Angelo State. Tuttle and Boyer, saw their first reps at the collegiate level while Alex Kirby broke out as Tech’s go-to setter.

Emily Hill and Brooke Kanas led the Red Raiders with 29 and 23 kills, respectively. Boyer racked up 16 kills and a team-leading nine blocks while Emerson Solano paced the squad with 48 digs on the day.

“Our younger players have done really well in their first offseason and have done everything that we expected,” Graystone said.  “You have players like Alex Kirby and Karrington Jones who were right on the bubble and now they’re in a big role. It’s been fun to watch them really develop and see the returning players rise up.”

Tech went 3-0-1 again in their second spring event – the West Texas A&M tournament in Canyon, Texas. The Red Raiders opened up the tournament with wins over Frank Phillips College, Otero Junior College and Seward before splitting with the hosting Lady Buffs. 

Hill led Tech with a commanding 30 kills while four other Red Raiders –Kanas (21), Hannah Allison (17), Haley Harman (16) and Boyer – recorded double-digit kills. Stepping up in her first spring season, Boyer paced the Red Raiders with 12 blocks and Allison and Kanas both tallied 10.

Setting Tech up for success, Kirby collected 81 assists and Audrey Smith finished the day with seven. Kylie Rittimann (30) and Solano (33) combined for 63 of Tech's 156 digs and Hill followed closely behind with 21.

“We have a lot of changes with new setting and a new offense,” Graystone continued. “We have new leadership all around so it’s been a very productive spring.”

U.S. COLLEGIATE NATIONAL TEAM

This year, Tech sent three Red Raiders to the U.S. Collegiate National Team Tryouts in Colorado Springs, Colo. Emily Hill, Alex Kirby and Brook Kanas all participated in the three-day event and Kanas emerged as the fourth Red Raider in program history to earn a spot on the prestigious team.

“Brooke did a great job and was able to make one of the College National Teams so she gets to go to Anaheim this summer and train at the training center and play there with that group,” Graystone said. “That’s an important step and something that we’re really proud of. It shows what her talent is like and what her career is going to be.”

The freshman is the youngest Red Raider to spend a summer with the Collegiate National Team and will spend her summer training with the National Domestic program in Anaheim, Calif., on June 23-29. The program will hold a public Red-Blue scrimmage on June 28 in the vicinity of Anaheim (site and Time TBA).

CIAO, ITALIA!

The Red Raiders are taking their skills on a 12-day excursion to the country of Italy where they will face several high-level teams while experiencing local history and culture. The squad will depart on their foreign tour on May 19 and will return to Lubbock on May 30.

“We’ve been planning this trip basically since the day I got hired at Tech,” Graystone noted. “It’s been a long time coming but now it’s right here and we’re so excited. We’re going to play a couple of high-level teams in Italy then we’re going to go over to Maribor and play some groups over there. It’s part volleyball and part culture, history and team-building and we’re really fired up about it.”

After a long plane ride, the team is set to arrive in Milan on May 20 and will play one of the Italian National Teams the next day. After a match against the Junior National team on May 22, the team will spend their Thursday experiencing culture in Verona and Galzignano.

The team will travel to Padova to face a local team on May 24 and the Red Raiders will take a train ride to Venice and Maribor the next day. Tech will play two matches at the DRAS Center on May 26-27 before traveling to Bled, Slovenia on May 28. The Red Raiders’ journey is set to end in Venice and the team will be Lubbock bound on May 30.

“This trip really helped shape our whole spring because we’ve put our group in different blocks getting ready for spring competition and then some downtime. Now we’re gearing back up to play again and hopefully, that will launch us into our summer and get us ready for two-a-days.”

For all the latest information on the Texas Tech volleyball team, visit TexasTech.com or follow @TexasTechVB on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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