Volleyball preview part one – season overview

Lorin Thomas (Courtesy of Bennett Scarborough)
Lorin Thomas (Courtesy of Bennett Scarborough)

BUIES CREEK, N.C. – As classes began on Wednesday, GoCamels.com begins its preseason preview of the 2013 volleyball campaign with a season overview and a look at the coaching staff. The five-part series will continue on Friday by discussing the setters.

Campbell wraps up the preseason on Saturday with an Alumni Match set for 11 a.m. inside Gore Arena/John W. Pope Jr. Convocation Center. The four-set contest is staged to provide the team with an opportunity to go through a real-match setting.

The Camels open the season on Aug. 29 against Northern Arizona at 4:30 p.m. as apart of the William & Mary Invitational. Campbell faces the host Tribe and Sacramento State the following day.

2013 Volleyball Preview

Aug. 21 – Season Overview
Aug. 23 – Setters
Aug. 25 – Middle blockers
Aug. 27 – Outside / Right Side Hitters
Aug. 29 – Defensive Specialists

Season Overview

Entering the 2013 campaign, Campbell is under the guidance of Greg Goral, who was named the 12th head coach of the Camels on Dec. 10, 2012. He has instilled a foundation of discipline and hard work into the program since his arrival.

"These players are beginning to understand what it takes to play at a high level and become champions," said Goral. "The rewards are what drives the student-athletes and coaching staff to continue working hard."

Seven returners are back for the Camels including a trio of upperclassmen that are poised to lead the team into a new era in seniors middle blocker Lindsey Coats (Dunn, N.C.) and setter Heather Wilson (Concord, N.C.) and redshirt junior outside Jessica Groen (Las Cruces, N.M.). A pair of sophomore transfers in outside Alexis Hein from Arkansas-Little Rock and defensive specialist Mary Crema (Loveland, Ohio) from Cincinnati are going to be key contributors, while freshmen setter Rebecca Ramirez (Long Beach, Calif.) and middle blocker Jenny Tait (Ormiston, Australia) provide added depth.

Coach Goral has taken a teaching mentality, stressing on the technical aspects of the game, in preparing his squad over the spring and during the preseason practice sessions.

"The end result is that our players will become smarter players that are in better positions to make plays and take smarter swings," said coach Goral. "We can reduce the number of unforced and mental errors, leading to more opportunities to score."

The team has learned the value of executing offensively and having a more complete understanding of the game.

"If we can execute more often, then we are going to score more points, which will ultimately lead to more victories," said coach Goral. "We must have the right mentality defensively. To go out and be aggressive, be a team that doesn't give up and fights for every point.

Creating a sense of unity between each of the 11 members of the squad has been a goal for coach Goral. The ability to communicate at a higher level, understand one another and to work together has been encouraged in off-court team activities like a scavenger hunt, Frisbee golf, bowling and a training session at the beach.

"As the season moves forward, the consistency level of our team offense and defense will progress as the players become comfortable with one another," said coach Goral. "There will be less mistakes and an increase in all-around communication and execution."

Joining Goral in the spring was assistant coach Ashley Weers, one of the most prolific offensive players in Campbell history. It is her second stint on the coaching staff at Campbell after spending two seasons as a graduate assistant following her playing career (2005-09).

"From an organizational and managerial standpoint, Ashley knows the ins and outs of Campbell," said coach Goral. "She provides really good insight for our recruits because of her prospective of being a student-athlete here and the changes that have been made in the program."

The coaching staff is rounded out by Alicia Roth, who was a four-year defensive specialist at Samford. She brings coaching experience at the club level and is an asset in helping to develop the back row players.

"Alicia helped Samford's program go through a transition process, where a new coach came in and built a championship team in three years," said coach Goral. "She can relate to the players from the perspective of implementing a winning culture into our program."