Position Preview: Defensive Specialists/Libero

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Editor’s Note: This is the third part in a four-part series previewing the University of Iowa volleyball team’s 2019 season. The third installment previews the Hawkeye defensive specialists and libero

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa volleyball team enters the 2019 season with plenty of options to fill the shoes of volleyball’s 2018 Academic All-America Team Member of the Year in Molly Kelly. The trio of Emily Bushman, Halle Johnston, and Maddie Slagle are joined by freshmen Joslyn Boyer, Emma Lowes, and Jaedynn Evans, who will push the returners for playtime this fall.

“The Libero/DS group has very good leaders in it and they will be competing with each other throughout the whole season, which is what you want in that ball control group,” head coach Vicki Brown said.

Additions: Joslyn Boyer, Emma Lowes, Jaedynn Evans

Losses: Molly Kelly

Halle Johnston begins her junior season with the most experience among the three returners, having played in 113 sets over her first two seasons.

“Halle Johnston was our libero going into our spring training and that gives her a leg up, but one thing about that position is that it is not only about the execution and your personal statistics, but it’s also about how you are communicating and bringing the team together,” Brown said.

Johnston has shown she is capable of growing into that role after Iowa’s spring matches last March.

What senior Emily Bushman lacks in playing time, she makes up with leadership, serving as one of three Hawkeye captains this season.

“Emily Bushman is entering her senior year and she has mainly been in an in-and-out DS role, but she brings leadership within the group and she is one of our captains,” Brown said.

Sophomore Maddie Slagle saw action in 31 matches with 10 starts during her freshman year, giving the Cedar Rapids native a lot to take in after her first season. Slagle’s play last season along with her growth over the summer gives her a good opportunity to see her role expand this fall.

Freshmen Joslyn Boyer and Emma Lowes arrived in Iowa City over the summer and are bringing their gritty play style with them.

“Joslyn Boyer and Emma Lowes come from the two most gritty, competitive club teams and both of them have played libero for those club teams,” Brown said. “They are very interesting in how they go about their grit, but they will do anything to make a play. We were fortunate that Joslyn and Emma were here in the summer getting used to the speed and velocity of Big Ten attacking and serving.”

Iowa City native and two-time All-State honoree Jaedynn Evans drove a couple miles down the road from Regina and enters her freshman season. Evans was named Elite All-Conference her junior and senior seasons and placed third at nationals with the Iowa Rockets in the 17 Division.

With a couple different tweaks to each freshmen’s game the trio will begin to compete further for playtime on the court this fall.

The Hawkeyes make their home debut Sept. 6 against Colorado at 7 p.m. (CT). Purchase tickets at hawkeyesports.com/tickets or over the phone at 800-IA-HAWKS.