Every day at VolleyMob we will preview several of the most notable and interesting matches in NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball. We will offer an inside look at some of those top matchups each day as we carry along through the 2017 season.
On opening day/night, there are some great match-ups that could loom large come seeding time for the NCAA Tournament or can give us an early glimpse on some heavyweights in 2017. It may be early and isn’t the be-all end-all for what a team’s season will be, but that doesn’t mean today isn’t important and won’t have some implication on the season.
*Note: VolleyMob’s Top 25 is utilized for a team’s ranking
The Big Match:
#1 Texas at #9 Florida – 7 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
The season kicks-off for both teams in a top-10 matchup per the VolleyMob preseason top 25. The Longhorns are also ranked number one in the AVCA Preseason Poll with Florida coming in at number 12. Texas, the back-to-back National Runner-Up looks to start their campaign to get over the hump on the right foot in a hostile road environment as Florida has something to prove after falling in the second round last season.
These two teams met in the 2015 Elite Eight and played a stellar five-set match that Texas eventually pulled out. This meeting won’t have quite the stakes but it does include six players who earned some sort of AVCA All-America recognition last season in Ebony Nwanebu and Micaya White for Texas and Rhamat Alhassan, Allie Monserez, Carli Snyder and Caroline Knop for Florida. Texas also brings back three-time All-American Chiaka Ogbogu after she missed 2016 with an academic issue while both teams will mix in some of the top freshmen talent in the country.
Other Notable Matches:
#15 Oregon vs. #5 Nebraska – 5 p.m. ET (ESPN3)
The match that preludes Texas-Florida is a different top-15 matchup as Oregon and Nebraska meet on a neutral floor in Gainesville, Florida. Nebraska loses three pillars to the program and star setter Kelly Hunter is rehabbing an injury and may miss the match. That might make them upset prone early in the season as Oregon has an experienced team with six starters back, led by 2016 AVCA Third-Team All-American outside hitter Lindsey Vander Weide.
#4 Minnesota vs. #10 North Carolina – 5:30 p.m. ET (BTN2Go)
This one takes place on a neutral court in Madison, Wisconsin in a match that almost occurred in the Elite Eight last year. North Carolina fell to UCLA in the Sweet 16 to prevent that as now both teams meet with intentions of a strong start to 2017. Minnesota lost some big names, including AVCA Player of the Year Sarah Wilhite, but they still have lofty expectations with a strong recruiting class and three starters who all earned some form of AVCA All-American status back. North Carolina returns four starters as the outside hitter position is loaded for the Tar Heels in 2017.
Best of the Rest:
#17 Florida State at RV(#28) Baylor – 8 p.m. ET (Fox Southwest Plus)
#21 Utah at #14 Kentucky – 9 p.m. ET (SEC Network)
#23 San Diego vs. #12 UCLA – 10:45 p.m. ET
#16 Michigan at RV(#27) USC – 11 p.m. ET (Pac-12 Networks)