Illinois Rises Behind Tourney Success; VolleyMob Top 25 Power Rankings (Week 16)

  0 Derek Johnson | December 04th, 2017 | ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, College - Women's Indoor, Conference USA, Division I Mid-Major, Missouri Valley Conference, Mountain West, News, Pac 12, Rankings, SEC, WCC

The first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament occurred over the weekend, and sure enough not everything went to plan. That brought with it shuffling in the VolleyMob Top 25 Power Rankings as not only did a multitude of teams play, lose or take down fellow ranked opponents, but they also did so in the postseason. That means the wins have a bit more added importance as it comes in determining the National Champion and when everyone’s team is at its final destination.

Overall though, while a handful of NCAA Tournament seeds fell, none of the top six in the VolleyMob Top 25 (and seven for the NCAA Tournament) fell – although a few had close calls. That means we have the same top six, starting at the top with National Title favorite Penn State:


  • 31-1 (19-1, Big Ten)
  • Last Week: #1; Def. Howard (3-1), Pittsburgh (3-1)
  • Upcoming Week: vs. #22 Missouri, *vs. #11 Michigan State/#20 Illinois*
  • It wasn’t quite the dominant opening weekend that #1 Penn State was looking for, as they dropped a set to Howard and to a lesser extent Pittsburgh. Still, the Nittany Lions move on to the Sweet 16 with their side of the bracket busted, as three unseeded teams and a potential Big Ten matchup later on await.


  • 27-1 (17-1, SEC)
  • Last Week: #2; Def. Alabama State (3-0), Miami (FL) (3-1)
  • Upcoming Week: vs. #14 UCLA, *vs. #7 Minnesota/#9 USC*
  • The Gators jumped all over Alabama State and continued that for a moment against Miami (FL) until the Hurricanes struck back. Still, Florida overcame the first challenge they saw by winning in four as they head to the Sweet 16 following a second route exit last year. Unlike Penn State, the bracket hasn’t broken for the Gators as Gainesville plays host to all four seeds in the regional this week.


  • 28-3 (19-1, Pac-12)
  • Last Week: #3; Def. CSU Bakersfield (3-0), (RV) Colorado State (3-0)
  • Upcoming Week: vs. #15 Wisconsin, *vs. #4 Texas/#10 Utah*
  • The Cardinal impressed in the opening rounds with a pair of sweeps, including outscoring Colorado State 75-38. They look more than ready to defend their National Title, but it won’t be easy with an ultra talented Wisconsin team coming to Palo Alto. If they can get through that, they will be challenged by either Texas or a Pac-12 foe.


  • 26-2 (16-0, Big 12)
  • Last Week: #4; Def. Fairfield (3-0), NC State (3-0)
  • Upcoming Week: vs. #10 Utah, *at #3 Stanford/vs. #15 Wisconsin*
  • Just like the top seed in their region, Texas impressed in the opening week with a pair of sweeps. This is when they peak seemingly every season, but that will be tested against a really solid Utah bunch. If they can progress through the Utes, they could be on the road in a National Title rematch from last year.


  • 28-4 (19-1, Big Ten)
  • Last Week: #5; Def. Stony Brook (3-0), Washington State (3-0)
  • Upcoming Week: vs. #16 Colorado, *at #6 Kentucky/vs. #8 BYU*
  • Unlike some other national seeds, Nebraska was fortunate in not having to take on a team ranked or on the cusp in the VolleyMob Top 25 in round two. That more than pays back this week though, as they face an unseeded yet ranked Colorado bunch in a former Big 12 matchup. If they can win that, they potentially would be on the road against co-SEC champion Kentucky.


  • 28-3 (17-1, SEC)
  • Last Week: #6; Def. East Tennessee State (3-0), (RV) Western Kentucky (3-2)
  • Upcoming Week: vs. #8 BYU, *vs. #5 Nebraska/#16 Colorado*
  • Kentucky has collected nine consecutive victories, but their most recent one was so close to slipping away. They dropped behind 2-0 in sets to in-state opponent Western Kentucky, but came back firing from there and squeaked it out in the fifth set. The challenges only get tougher now with BYU, but Kentucky does have the home-court advantage for the next step in the NCAA Tournament.


  • 28-5 (15-5, Big Ten)
  • Last Week: #8; Def. North Dakota (3-0), (RV) Northern Iowa (3-1)
  • Upcoming Week: vs. #9 USC, *at #2 Florida/vs. #14 UCLA*
  • The Golden Gophers rolled through neighboring North Dakota 3-0 before facing Northern Iowa, a team who had been a giant killer before even beating Nebraska. After being challenged by the Panthers, Minnesota fought through for their third straight Sweet 16. They’re in the lone regional that all four seeds remain though, so it should be a dog fight from here.


  • 30-2 (17-1, WCC)
  • Last Week: #9; Def. American (3-0), (RV) Oregon (3-0)
  • Upcoming Week: at #6 Kentucky, *vs. #5 Nebraska/#16 Colorado*
  • BYU is only ranked as the 13 seed in the NCAA Tournament without a stellar conference schedule, but based on watching the Cougars you can see them as a much better team than that. Knowing that, it should make for a Sweet 16 clash with Kentucky interesting, especially after the Cougars were one point from upending Texas in Austin during this round last year.


  • 24-9 (14-6, Pac-12)
  • Last Week: #12; Def. Central Arkansas (3-1), #14 San Diego (3-2)
  • Upcoming Week: vs. #7 Minnesota, *at #2 Florida/vs. #14 UCLA*
  • USC had one of the toughest second round opponents in a San Diego team ranked in our top 15 but not seeded. They edged by them behind a home crowd in five sets as they move into our top 10. The schedule ahead looks wary with Minnesota and then either Florida on the road or a UCLA team that beat the Trojans in the regular season finale.


  • 24-9 (13-7, Pac-12)
  • Last Week: #13; Def. Cleveland State (3-0), #16 Purdue (3-1)
  • Upcoming Week: vs. #4 Texas, *at #3 Stanford/vs. #15 Wisconsin*
  • Just like USC, Utah had a very difficult second round matchup with #16 Purdue and earned a tight victory. That pushes Utah into our top 10 with plenty of options to move even further if they can upend Texas in the Sweet 16 and get an Elite Eight meeting with Wisconsin or Pac-12 foe Stanford.


  • 23-8 (14-6, Big Ten)
  • Last Week: #15; Def. #24 Missouri State (3-0), at #10 Creighton (3-1)
  • Upcoming Week: vs. #20 Illinois, *at #1 Penn State/vs. #22 Missouri*
  • After losing two of their last four in the regular season, Michigan State more than bounced back with a sweep of Missouri Valley Conference champion Missouri State and Big East champ Creighton. Both were VolleyMob Top 25 wins too, as Michigan State could be in store for a pair of Big Ten matches this week.


  • 26-7 (16-2, Big East)
  • Last Week: #10; Def. Coastal Carolina (3-1); Lost vs. #15 Michigan State (1-3)
  • Upcoming Week: None
  • Creighton had maybe the toughest first round pod, and suffered a negative result from it as after downing Coastal Carolina they were upended by Michigan State. It was almost a reverse of last year, when Creighton was the unseeded team making an Elite Eight run after upending their second round host. Still, it was a great season for the BlueJays who won another Big East title and earned a top 10 seed but had a rough draw.


  • 25-8 (14-6, Pac-12)
  • Last Week: #7; Def. LIU Brooklyn (3-0); Lost vs. (RV) Illinois (2-3)
  • Upcoming Week: None
  • The Huskies pushed in front 2-1 in sets over Illinois after dropping the first, as it looked like Washington was in control. However, they couldn’t handle the Illinois block and attack and fell behind in a fifth set as they were the highest seed losing. Still, it was a great finish to the season as Washington suffered through injury all season long and still finished second in the Pac-12.


  • 21-10 (12-8, Pac-12)
  • Last Week: #17; Def. Austin Peay (3-0), #21 Cal Poly (3-1)
  • Upcoming Week: at #2 Florida, *vs. #7 Minnesota/#9 USC*
  • UCLA had a very strong week in reaching the Sweet 16. First they took down a 30-win Austin Peay squad and then they overcame the story-lines with Cal Poly for a four-set challenging win. They sit in what is basically the regional of doom at this point as the only one with all four seeds, but will look to stun the Gators in Gainesville.


  • 22-9 (11-9, Big Ten)
  • Last Week: #18; Def. (RV) Marquette (3-0), at #19 Iowa State (3-0)
  • Upcoming Week: at #3 Stanford, *vs. #4 Texas/#10 Utah*
  • Wisconsin showed that their up-and-down end to the season was more of a testament to the strong Big Ten conference as they are now 11-0 vs. non-conference opponents. That success continued with not just wins, but sweeps of Marquette and host Iowa State as now they look like a dangerous wrecking ball to NCAA Tournament brackets everywhere.


  • 24-9 (12-8, Pac-12)
  • Last Week: #23; Def. James Madison (3-0), at #11 Baylor (3-0)
  • Upcoming Week: vs. #5 Nebraska, *at #6 Kentucky/vs. #8 BYU*
  • Colorado was yet another unseeded team to upend their host in the second round, as following a sweep of James Madison, they took down Baylor. It wasn’t necessarily a surprise that they won in Waco, but the fact that they did it in straight sets was an eye-opener as they now head to a difficult Sweet 16 matchup.


  • 24-7 (13-3, Big 12)
  • Last Week: #11; Def. Miami (OH) (3-0); Lost vs. #23 Colorado (0-3)
  • Upcoming Week: None
  • Baylor couldn’t reach their first Sweet 16 after they got to host their first pod in program history. It was unfortunate for them as Katie Staiger could only play one set and take three swings, but it was still an amazing season for the Bears breaking program records even with the health of their All-American in question.


  • 25-5 (17-1, WCC)
  • Last Week: #14; Def. LSU (3-1); Lost at #12 USC (2-3)
  • Upcoming Week: None
  • We had San Diego as one of the top 16 teams heading into the NCAA Tournament, but they didn’t host with an RPI that conflicted that. That may have been their downfall, although they didn’t have to travel too far, but it’d be easy to say that a five-set road loss to the 10-seed could have been different in the Jenny Craig Pavillion. Still, San Diego showed that they were for real as co-WCC champions, but they just fall short of the Sweet 16.


  • 23-10 (12-8, Big Ten)
  • Last Week: #16; Def. High Point (3-1); Lost at #13 Utah (1-3)
  • Upcoming Week: None
  • The Boilermakers also showed how good they were in a loss as they were just edged out in an incredibly close four-setter to Utah. They also took down a solid mid-major in High Point before falling short in the second round. Their overall season showed they are one of the top non-Sweet 16 teams, as they stay in the top 20 ahead of a surprise Sweet 16 team that they swept on the road.


  • 23-10 (12-8, Big Ten)
  • Last Week: RV; Def. Hawaii (3-2), at #7 Washington (3-2)
  • Upcoming Week: vs. #11 Michigan State, *at #1 Penn State/vs. #22 Missouri*
  • Illinois was one of a handful of Cinderellas to emerge through the first two rounds, as they edged out Hawaii before upending the highest seeded team to fall in Washington on the road. Their run can continue with another Big Ten foe in Michigan State, as they can avenge being swept by the Spartans earlier this season.


  • 22-7 (11-5, Big 12)
  • Last Week: #19; Def. Princeton (3-0); Lost vs. #18 Wisconsin (0-3)
  • Upcoming Week: None
  • Iowa State was indeed the host and 14th ranked team by the NCAA Tournament committee, but they were actually ranked lower than Wisconsin in our rankings. Sure enough they fell at home to the Badgers to end their season in the second round after a tough draw. Still, it was a strong season for Iowa State who just robotically seems to put up top three finish after finish in the Big 12.


  • 22-11 (13-5, SEC)
  • Last Week: UR; Def. #20 Kansas (3-2), at #22 Wichita State (3-1)
  • Upcoming Week: at #1 Penn State, *vs. #11 Michigan State/#20 Illinois*
  • This is Missouri’s first time being ranked since the start of the year – not a bad time to get that designation though. The reason was because they went 7-6 in non-conference play and never earned a true signature win in the SEC (against Florida or Kentucky). They did slowly get better though and won plenty of SEC games, as now they got those signature wins with a Border War defeat of Kansas and a road win at seeded Wichita State.


  • 22-8 (11-5, Big 12)
  • Last Week: #20; Lost vs. Missouri (2-3)
  • Upcoming Week: None
  • The Jayhawks end of season collapse came to a conclusion with a five-set loss to Border War rival Missouri in five sets. However, they fared better than Wichita State and overall still had big wins over the course of the season, but for whatever reason couldn’t finish the job as they were in the top 10 just three weeks ago.


  • 27-3 (16-0, Big West)
  • Last Week: #21; Def. Denver (3-0); Lost at #17 UCLA (1-3)
  • Upcoming Week: None
  • The Mustangs dispatched Denver relatively quickly and looked like a stern challenge for UCLA early after taking the first set 28-26. However, they couldn’t finish the job and suffered the tough loss. They still should have a bright 2018, as they end their season ranked just ahead of fellow mid-major Wichita State – who they took down in the non-con.


  • 29-4 (20-0, AAC)
  • Last Week: #22; Def. Radford (3-0); Lost vs. Missouri (1-3)
  • Upcoming Week: None
  • Wichita State couldn’t take care of their home court advantage and fell to Missouri in the second round. Still, it was a great season for the Shockers who went unbeaten in their first AAC go around and earned their first ever national seed and ability to host.

On the Cusp/’Receiving Votes’:

Western Kentucky (31-4)

Missouri State (28-6)* (24)

Northern Iowa (27-9)

Oregon (18-12)

Colorado State (29-4)

Michigan (21-12)* (25)

Louisville (24-7)

Pittsburgh (26-7)

Miami (FL) (22-6)

NC State (21-12)

Others who Dropped Out:


Note: * signifies dropped out (previous ranking)

Previous Polls:

Week 15 VolleyMob Top 25

Week 14 VolleyMob Top 25

Week 13 VolleyMob Top 25

Week 12 VolleyMob Top 25

Week 11 VolleyMob Top 25

Week 10 VolleyMob Top 25

Week 9 VolleyMob Top 25

Week 8 VolleyMob Top 25

Week 7 VolleyMob Top 25

Week 6 VolleyMob Top 25

Week 5 VolleyMob Top 25

Week 4 VolleyMob Top 25

Week 3 VolleyMob Top 25

Week 2 VolleyMob Top 25

Preseason Top 25 (Week 1)

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