Way-Too-Early 2017 NCAA Women’s Division I Rankings

  0 Emma LeGault | January 02nd, 2017 | College - Women's Indoor, News, Rankings

We know September is nine months away, but we couldn’t help but start speculating about the who’s who of NCAA women’s volleyball in 2017. 

A lot will change, of course, before the season officially begins, but here’s what we know now: Stanford won the National Championship with youth and will keep most of the team intact, while teams like Minnesota and Nebraska will lose more than a few top players, which could spell trouble for them down the line.

As teams start returning to their gyms for spring training, here’s a look at where the top programs might fall when the first whistle blows later this year.

1. Stanford

  • The 2016 national champions will be without AVCA First-Team All-American Inky Ajanaku in 2017, but most of the team will be back to contend for a top-title repeat, led by AVCA Coach of the Year John Dunning.
  • Freshman of the Year and First-Team All-American Kathryn Plummer will be a player to watch. She led Stanford in kills and kills per set with 461 and 3.34, respectively.
  • Third-Team All-American Merete Lutz will return as well. She switched from middle blocker to opposite hitter this season and finished with 2.29 kills per set.
  • Stanford finished 27-7 (15-5 Pac-12).

2. Texas

  • The national championship runners-up Longhorns will start the 2017 season bringing in a top recruiting class featuring Lexi Sun, the No. 1 recruit (per PrepVolleyball), as well as No. 2 Brionne Butler and No. 6 Ashley Shook.
  • Texas’ biggest threat to upset Stanford would be All-American middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu returning in 2017. (She was academically ineligible for 2016.)
  • AVCA First-Team All-Americans Ebony Nwanebu, a junior, and Micaya White, a freshman, will return for the Longhorns in 2017.
  • Texas finished 27-5 (14-2 Big 12).

3. Minnesota

  • Although Minnesota finished in the Final Four, the Golden Gophers will lose quite a few seniors, including AVCA Player of the Year Sarah Wilhite.
  • However, First-Team All-American and Big Ten Setter of the Year Samantha Seliger-Swenson will return in 2017. In her sophomore season, she had 1,465 assists and 11.63 assists per set, good for first and eighth in the nation, respectively.
  • Minnesota finished 29-5 (17-3 Big Ten).

4. Washington

  • The Huskies fell to Nebraska in the Elite Eight, but they’ll graduate only one senior and reboot with a young roster.
  • AVCA First-Team All-American and Pac-12 Player of the Year Courtney Schwan and Second-Team All-Americans Crissy Jones and Bailey Tanner will return in 2017.
  • The Huskies signed Lauren Sanders, a top middle blocker and Under Armour High School First-Team All-American, for the 2017 season.
  • Washington finished 29-5 (16-4 Pac-12).

5. Nebraska

  • The Huskers made it to the Final Four, falling to eventual No. 2 Texas, but they’ll graduate three high-performing seniors in Justine Wong-Orantes, Amber Rolfzen and Kadie Rolfzen.
  • However, junior setter and AVCA Second-Team All-American Kelly Hunter will return in 2017. She ranked 17th in the country in assists per set with 11.24, and 20th in total assists with 1,315.
  • Nebraska will also bring in two Under Armour High School First-Team All-Americans: Jazz Sweet and Chesney McClellan.
  • Nebraska finished 31-3 (18-2 Big Ten).

6. Kansas

  • Although No. 5 Kansas was upset by Creighton in the NCAA Tournament second round, the Jayhawks topped their conference, winning the Big 12 Championship.
  • AVCA First-Team All-American Kelsie Payne and Third-Team All-American Ainise Havili will return in 2017.
  • Kansas will also return outside hitter Madison Rigdon, who was seventh in the country in aces with 54 and 12th in aces per set with 0.47.
  • Kansas finished 27-3 (15-1 Big 12).

7. Wisconsin

  • The Badgers made it to the Elite Eight, but they’ll lose top players like four-time All-American Lauren Carlini and Second-Team All-American Haleigh Nelson.
  • But Third-Team All-American freshman Molly Haggerty will return. She led Wisconsin with 385 kills and 3.41 kills per set.
  • The Badgers will also bring in three Under Armour High School All-Americans for 2017: Sydney HilleyGrace Loberg, and Mariah Whalen.
  • Wisconsin finished 28-5 (17-3 Big Ten).

8. UCLA

  • The Bruins will lose four seniors before the 2017 season, but they’ll return AVCA Pacific South All-Region First Team honoree freshman Torrey Van Winden.
  • UCLA will add at least three Under Armour High School All-Americans in 2017: Mac May, Jenny Mosser, and Emily Ryan.
  • UCLA finished 27-7 (15-5 Pac-12).

9. Creighton

  • The Bluejays tied the school record for wins, won the Big East, and made it to the Elite Eight for the first time.
  • AVCA Third-Team All-American setter Lydia Dimke will return in 2017. She ranked second in the country in total assists (1,454) and 12th in assists per set (11.36).
  • Creighton finished 29-7 (18-0 Big East).

10. Florida

  • Florida topped the SEC rankings but was upset by Florida State in the NCAA Tournament second round.
  • AVCA Third-Team All-American Rhamat Alhassan, a middle blocker, will return in 2017. She ranked ninth in the country in hitting percentage with 0.416 and 11th in blocks per set with 1.45.
  • The Gators signed outside hitter Paige Hammons, a MaxPreps All-American First-Team selection and Under Armour High School First-Team All-American.
  • Florida finished 27-4 (16-2 SEC).

11. Penn State

12. BYU

  • Finished 29-4 (16-2 WCC) in the Sweet Sixteen, led by WCC Freshman of the Year and AVCA Third-Team All-American McKenna Miller.

13. North Carolina

  • Ended season 29-4  in the Sweet Sixteen. Posted a program-best ACC record of 19-1, led by AVCA Second-Team All-American sophomore outside hitter Taylor Leath.

14. Florida State

  • Finished 26-6 (17-3 ACC) in the Sweet Sixteen.

15. Michigan

  • Ended season 24-11 (11-9 Big Ten) in the Sweet Sixteen.

16. Missouri

  • Finished 27-6 (16-2 SEC) in the Sweet Sixteen, led by AVCA Third-Team All-American junior Melanie Crow.

17. Kentucky

  • Ended season 23-8 (15-3 SEC) in the NCAA Tournament second round, led by SEC Freshman of the Year and AVCA Third-Team All-American Leah Edmond.

18. Illinois

19. Hawaii

  • Finished 23-6 (15-1 Big West) and in the NCAA Tournament second round.

20. Michigan State

  • Ended season 25-9 (13-7 Big Ten) in the NCAA Tournament second round, led by AVCA Second-Team All-American junior middle blocker Alyssa Garvelink.

21. Ohio State

  • Finished 22-13 (10-10 Big Ten) in the Sweet Sixteen, led by sophomore and AVCA Third-Team All-American setter Taylor Hughes.

22. Arizona

  • Ended season 20-15 (10-10 Pac-12) in the Sweet Sixteen.

23. Oregon

  • Finished 21-10 (13-7 Pac-12) and made it to the NCAA Tournament second round, led by sophomore and AVCA Third-Team All-American outside hitter Lindsey Vander Weide.

24. San Diego

  • Ended season 24-6 (15-3 West Coast Conference) and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

25. Baylor

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