CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Campbell was picked to finish tied for ninth in the Big South Preseason Volleyball Poll, announced by the league office on Monday. The favorite entering the campaign is Liberty, while the Flames' middle blocker Caroline Douglas was honored as the Conference Preseason Player of the Year.
"Based on last year's performance, I would agree with how we are initially ranked," said first-year head coach Greg Goral. "It doesn't mean a whole lot going forward though. We had a great spring implementing a new system and style of play. We will continue to build off our successes and integrate the incoming players into the program as smoothly as possible."
Coach Goral came to Campbell after spending the past five seasons helping turn Morehead State into a perennial Ohio Valley Conference power. He is looking to set a new foundation for the Camels' program that is coming off a 7-24 campaign.
"My expectations for the fall are that we want to improve our skill level in every area, continue to develop each week, both offensively and defensively, and create a strong cohesive unit that will battle every night," said coach Goral. "If we do that we will have an opportunity to reach the Big South Championships (Nov. 21-23 in Clinton, S.C.) and attain our team goals. I am definitely excited to see what this team can do."
The Camels return seven players from last year's squad, while welcoming freshmen Rebecca Ramirez (Long Beach, Calif.) and Jenny Tait (Ormiston, Australia) and sophomores Mary Crema (Loveland, Ohio) and Alexis Hein (Murrieta, Calif.).
Senior middle blocker Lindsey Coats (Dunn, N.C.) and junior outside hitter Jessica Groen (Lac Cruces, N.M.) paced the team with 2.08 and 2.07 kills per set, respectively. Dishing out 8.02 assists per frame was senior Heather Wilson (Concord, N.C.), while freshman libero/defensive specialist Lauren Bewick (Winterville, N.C.) compiled 2.67 digs per set.
Following the Flames in the league's preseason poll was Coastal Carolina (92), High Point (78) and UNC Asheville (56) to round out the top four. In front of Campbell (20) and Charleston Southern (20) tied for ninth were Presbyterian (54), Radford (52), Winthrop (47) and Gardner-Webb (32).
The preseason all-conference team included Kindra Bailey and Gabriella Horvath from Coastal Carolina, Douglas and Jade Cray Craft from Liberty, Kristin Heldt and Annemarie Chin from High Point, and Ana Moore from UNC Asheville.
Campbell begins preparations for the upcoming season with its first practice on Aug. 7. Be sure to follow @GoCamelsVB on Twitter for updates throughout the preseason.
The Camels open the slate on Aug. 30 against Northern Arizona at 4:30 p.m. at the William & Mary Invitational. The first contest at Gore Arena/John W. Pope, Jr. Convocation Center is against N.C. Central at 3 p.m. on Sept. 6 as apart of the Hampton Inn of Holly Springs Invitational.
2013 Big South Preseason Volleyball Poll
1. Liberty (8) 98
2. Coastal Carolina (2) 92
3. High Point 78
4. UNC Asheville 56
5. Presbyterian 54
6. Radford 52
7. Winthrop 47
8. Gardner-Webb 32
T-9. Campbell 20
T-9 Charleston Southern 20
2013 Big South Preseason All-Conference Team
Caroline Douglas, R-So., MB, Liberty
Kindra Bailey, Sr., MB, Coastal Carolina
Jade Craycraft, Sr., S, Liberty
Gabriella Horvath, So., OH, Coastal Carolina
Anna Moore, Sr., MB, UNC Asheville
Kristin Heldt, Jr., OH, High Point
Annemarie Chin, So., LIB, High Point