Volleyball opens six-match homestand Friday

Lauren Bewick (Courtesy of Bennett Scarborough)
Lauren Bewick (Courtesy of Bennett Scarborough)

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BUIES CREEK, N.C. - After starting Big South play on the road at 2-1, Campbell returns to Gore Arena/John W. Pope Jr. Convocation Center on Friday at 7 p.m. against Liberty. The Camels continue a six-match homestand on Saturday vs. Radford with the first serve set for 2 p.m.

The contest against the Flames is broadcasted on the free Big South Network. Live stats are available for both contests with links at the top of the page.

Head coach Greg Goral and junior outside Jessica Groen (Las Cruces, N.M.) discuss the Camels start to league play and preview the matches against the Flames and Highlanders in the video that can be watched above.

The Liberty match serves as Camper Reunion Night, where campers have an opportunity to reconnect with their favorite student-athletes and coaches with a postgame autograph session.

Campbell hosts Presbyterian and Winthrop on Oct. 18-19 with the matches starting at 7 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.

CAMPBELL (11-8, 2-1) vs. LIBERTY (2-14, 1-2)

Camels All-Time vs. Liberty: 3-12
Series History: Liberty has a decisive advantage in the all-time series at 12-3 including a pair of 3-0 wins last year. The Camels are 2-3 at home, but 0-5 on the road in Lynchburg, Va. The Flames have taken four of five neutral site matchups.  Liberty is 7-1 all-time in Big South play. The last time the Camels knocked off Liberty was at home on Oct. 7, 1997.
Scouting Report: Liberty stands at 1-2 in league play with a 3-0 win over UNCA, while dropping contests to Radford (3-0) and Gardner-Webb (3-0). The Flames were picked first in the Big South Preseason Poll, but have played a tough non-conference schedule, notching their only win over Georgetown (3-1). Lillie Happel paces the Liberty offense with 3.04 kills per set. Running the offense has been Jade Craycraft with 7.63 assists per set. Libero Gabrielle Shipe has compiled 3.48 digs per set. Blocking down 1.10 attacks per frame has been Kendle Rollins. Head coach Shane Pinder is in his 10th season at the helm of Liberty.

CAMPBELL (11-8, 2-1) vs. RADFORD (13-7, 2-1)

Camels All-Time vs. Radford: 3-17
Series History: Radford has been a difficult Big South foe over the years for Campbell and holds a 17-3 matchup advantage. The Highlanders are 15-0 in league matchups, but the Camels did record a Big South Tournament win, 3-2 on Nov. 10, 1989. In 2011, Campbell took Radford to four and five sets in defeats. Radford has a 4-2 lead in neutral site meetings.
Scouting Report: Radford is 2-1 in Big South play with wins over Liberty (3-0) and UNCA (3-0) before falling to Gardner-Webb (2-3). The Highlanders topped N.C. Central (3-2), Savannah St. (3-0, 3-0), The Citadel (3-0), S.C. St. (3-0), James Madison (3-1), Princeton (3-0), George Mason(3-2), CSU Bakersfield (3-2), Kennesaw St. (3-1) and N.C. A&T (3-0). The trio of Rachel Wiecheki (3.38), Jordan Watson (3.03) and Cheyanne James (2.49) power the Highlanders' offense that tallies 12.9 kills per set. Jena Braden and Rachel Flores have combined to tally 11.80 assists per set. The back row is led by Rachel Wiechecki with 3.35 digs per set, while Emma Deininger and Savannah Cantrell have added 1.30 and 1.07 blocks per set, respectively. Head coach Marci Jenkins is in her sixth season leading the Highlanders' program.

- The Camels are 5-0 at home and begin a six-match homestand on Friday  against Liberty.
- Campbell opened Big South competition on the road by going 2-1 with wins over High Point and Charleston Southern.
- The 3-2 win at High Point was the Camels first Big South match in 15 opportunities.
- The career-best 20 kills by Jessica Groen at High Point on Sept. 27 were the most by a Camel since Allyson Goldback matched that total against Mercer on Oct. 20, 2010.
- The Camels are 6-1 in five-set matches, falling for the first time at Coastal Carolina on Oct. 5. Campbell came back from match point, 23-24, during the fourth frame vs. San Jose St. and Georgetown to win a decisive fifth set.
- Campbell has tallied a conference-best 117 service aces, but ranks second in average at 1.52 per set and 44th in the nation. Mary Crema stands third (0.38) and Heather Wilson is fifth (0.35) in the league's aces per set list.
- Campbell ranks 11th nationally and leads the Big South in digs per set at 17.40. Two-time Big South defensive player of the week, Mary Crema, ranks 15th nationally at 5.30. Alexis Hein (2.89), Katelyn Layden (2.79) and Heather Wilson (2.31) are all back-row contributors.
- Jessica Groen leads the offensive attack with 2.77 kills per set. The presence of Alexis Hein (2.31), Lindsey Coats (2.28), Katelyn Layden (1.87) and Lorin Thomas (1.83) have provided the Camels with consistent offense threats.-
A 9.08 assists per set average has been totaled by Heather Wilson, who was the Big South Player of the Week on Sept. 9.
- Seven double-doubles have been registered by Alexis Hein (kills/digs) and Heather Wilson (assists/digs). Jessica Groen and Katelyn Layden have added three and two kills/digs double-doubles each.

Campbell had a 2012 Big South season to forget after falling in all 14 matches. The 3-2 victory at High Point helped Coach Goral and the Camels stop a 15-match losing skid that dated back to a Nov. 11, 2011 home-win over Charleston Southern, 3-0. 

Heather Wilson, a three-year starter for the Camels, has amassed 2,852 assists, the second most in school history. She passed Sarah Dillon (2003-06) with 2,611 assists at the JMU Invitational. Jenny Bueno (1992-95) stands atop the list with 4,439. The Concord, N.C., native is also sixth all-time with 7.31 assists per set.

Mary Crema was named the Big South defensive player of the week for the second time on Sept. 23 after taking the first award of the year. She tallied 4.35 digs per set, while being honored to the JMU Invite All-Tournament Team. Crema opened the season totaling 5.77 digs per set. The Tribe Invite All-Tournament recipient reached her first 31-dig performance vs. San Jose St. and added 29 digs at William & Mary. 

Five different Camels were named to all-tournament teams. Mary Crema holds two honors from William & Mary and James Madison. Lorin Thomas received recognition following the Tribe Invite. The Hampton Inn of Holly Springs Invitational MVP was Heather Wilson, while Alexis Hein was selected all-tournament. An honor was earned by Lindsey Coats at the Eagle Challenge.

First-year head coach Greg Goral has helped the Camels surpass their 7-24 mark from last year with an 8-4 start. Campbell posted a perfect 5-0 mark in five-set matches with wins over William & Mary, San Jose St., Indiana St., Georgetown and UNC Wilmington. It was just the fourth time the program started 7-2 or better with the only other first-year coach to accomplish the feat being T.J. Meager in 1998.

Mary Crema has notched a pair of career-best 31-dig performances against San Jose St. and Indiana State. She was the first  Camel to hit the 30-dig plateau since Sarah Hill vs. Mercer (10/24/2009). The Loveland, Ohio, native has stabilized a back row that has eclipsed the 100-dig mark three times this season - William & Mary (120), Georgetown (115) and San Jose St. (112). 

Heather Wilson earned the Camels first overall volleyball player of the week honor on Sept. 9 since rejoining the Big South in 2011.  The Concord, N.C., native totaled 8.56 assists, 2.38 digs and 1.06 kills per set. She registered a pair of double-doubles including a personal-best 50 assists and 15 digs against Georgetown. A 45-assist, 13-dig and 8-kill performance was achieved by the Hampton Inn of Holly Springs Tournament MVP vs. Indiana State.