Volleyball preview part four – outside hitters

Jessica Groen (courtesy of Bennett Scarborough)
Jessica Groen (courtesy of Bennett Scarborough)

BUIES CREEK, N.C. – The 2013 Campbell volleyball preview resumes on Tuesday with a breakdown of the outside and right side hitters. Head coach Greg Goral and junior outside hitter Jessica Groen (Las Cruces, N.C.) discuss the position with a video interview that can be accessed at the top of the page.

The five-part series concludes on Thursday by looking at the defensive specialists, one of the most influential positions on the court.

Campbell begins the campaign at the William & Mary Invitational on Friday with a 4:30 p.m. contest against North Arizona. The following day the Camels face the host Tribe and San Jose St.

The first match at Gore Arena/John W. Pope Jr. Convocation Center is set for Sept. 6 at 3 p.m. against N.C. Central as a part of the Hampton Inn of Holly Springs Invitational. Indiana State and Georgetown are also scheduled to face the host Camels.

2013 Volleyball Preview

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

Outside / Right Side Hitters

The Camels have four options on the outside and right side, which is led by Groen. A trio of sophomores in Katelyn Layden (Chapel Hill, N.C.), Alexis Hein (Murrieta, Calif.) and Kendall Tart (Dunn, N.C.) are set to provide experience and depth.

Groen notched 201 kills during her sophomore campaign and has taken a leadership role on the court and in the weight room. The Las Cruces, N.M., native has transformed herself to play at a high level under the guidance coach Goral during the spring.

"Jessica is somebody that I have been very impressed with throughout my time here," said coach Goral. "She has been in the weight room all spring and summer, getting herself into great shape and that is showing in her ability to jump higher and attack with more power. She is an on-court leader for our team and wants to help this program compete for championships."

Layden has emerged as an up and coming leader in the program through her ability to play any position on the floor. The Chapel Hill, N.C., native registered 91 kills and 164 digs during her rookie campaign.

"Katelyn is a hybrid that can play either outside positions and is a strong defensive player," said coach Goral. "She can do it all and contribute in a number of ways. She is attacking the ball at a higher point and making better decisions, which has paid off in her ability to terminate offensively."

The third returner on the outside is Tart, who is coming off a shoulder injury that forced her to redshirt last season. The injury enabled her to focus on her back-row play during the spring and transform herself into a reliable defender.

"Kendall started a little slow in the preseason, but is now playing at a higher level," said coach Goral. "She is mentally tough and working had to get back to 100 percent. She is a player that can play multiple roles for us after doing a great job of passing and playing defense in the spring."

An addition from Arkansas-Little Rock is Hein, who is coming off an injury that ended her 2012 season early. The Murrieta, Calif., native appeared in 88 sets as a freshman, posting 119 kills and 25 blocks.

"Lexi is one of the athletes on our team," said coach Goral. "She is a player that we are confident in her ability to play six rotations. The experience of sitting a season has helped her develop an understanding of the game and when to take over."