Entering into the preseason of the 2017 volleyball season, Texas was voted as the #1 ranked team coming into the new season. This is a surprise, being that they lost to Stanford in the National Championship in 2016.
Texas has a ton of top players returning to their squad in 2017, including senior’s Ebony Nwanebu, Cat McCoy and Chiaka Ogbogu. Nwanebu was a First Team All-American and was selected to the NCAA All-Tournament team, while Chiaka is returning this season after sitting out in 2016 due to athletic reasons. In addition, the Longhorns will bring in the Gatorade National Player of the Year in Lexi Sun, who was named the top-ranked commitment in the country.
For Stanford, the most notable player they are losing is Inky Ajanaku, who was a dominant role player for Stanford this year. They are also bringing back a strong lineup of youthful players in the 2017 season, with Kathryn Plummer, the AVCA Freshman of the Year, Merete Lutz and Jenna Gray.
Washington crept up into the third position in the rankings after finishing the season with a seventh place rank. The Huskies did not lose any top contributors on their team that helped them to the Pac-12 title in 2016. Senior Courtney Schwan returns after being named a First Team All-American and the Pac-12 Player of the Year.
Rounding out the next four positions are Big Ten teams in Minnesota, Nebraska, Penn State and Wisconsin. Minnesota loses three huge contributors in Sarah Wilhite, the AVCA Player of the Year, the Big Ten Player of the Year and a First Team All-American. Twins Paige Tapp and Hannah Tapp graduated from the team, each being two-time All-Americans.
Nebraska is also suffering the loss of a number of players, including twins Amber Rolfzen and Kadie Rolfzen. In addition, they lost Justine Wong-Orantes, who was selected to the AVCA All-American First Team and was deemed the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Penn State jumped from the #10 position to #6 in the preseason poll. They are bringing back in a strong lineup from the 2016 season in Simone Lee, Haleigh Washington and Ali Frantti.
For Wisconsin, they lost Lauren Carlini, who was their shining setter for four years, as well as Haleigh Nelson. The Badgers are bringing in five freshmen this year, as well as returning Tionna Williams and Molly Haggerty.
The biggest change outside of the top-10 would be that UCLA, who finished ranked sixth in the polls last season, will enter in as the #13 ranked team for 2017.
The Division I collegiate season began on August 8, with many teams getting in a full two weeks worth of practice before the beginning weekend of play.
|Rank||School (First-Place Votes)||Total Points Adjusted||2016 Record||2016 Final Rank|
Others receiving votes and listed on two or more ballots: Southern California 105; Western Kentucky 98; Dayton 71; Washington State 67; Iowa State 62; Colorado State 55; Pittsburgh 49; Baylor 37; Kansas State 36; Boise State 21; Wichita State 7; Texas A&M 6; SMU 2
Nine teams mentioned on only one ballot for a total of 40 combined points.