Way-Too-Early 2018 VM Top 25 (#6-10): How Will Florida Regroup From A Magical 2017

  2 Derek Johnson | May 31st, 2018 | Big 12, Big Ten, College - Women's Indoor, News, Pac 12, Rankings, SEC

We are 12 weeks away from the first week of the 2018 Division I women’s volleyball season. With that being said, it’s time for VolleyMob’s Way-Too-Early 2018 Preseason Top 25.

Since these rankings are early and we don’t necessarily have the full picture in terms of recruiting and transfers still to come, most of this is based on experience and starters returning. As we move closer to the fall, we will update our rankings as needed. Until then, we will release five teams at a time this week, leading to the culmination of #1-5 on Friday.


  • 2017 Finish/Rank: Elite Eight, #5 in final VM Top 25
  • 2017 Record: 27-3 (16-0 Big 12)
  • Starters Likely Returning for 2018: 3
  • Key Returners: OH Micaya White (2017 AVCA Third-Team AA, 2016 First-Team), S Ashley Shook (2017 AVCA All-America HM)
  • Key Losses: MB Chiaka Ogbogu (Four-time AVCA AA, Three on First-Team), L Cat McCoy (2017 AVCA All-America HM), RS Ebony Nwanebu (2017 AVCA All-America HM), OH Lexi Sun (2017 AVCA All-America HM via transfer)
  • Bottom Line: Texas suffers some big losses in a four-time All-American (Ogbogu), a dynamic attacker (Nwanebu) and the school’s all-time dig leader (McCoy), but Texas always reshuffles the deck. It seemed like a smoother transition before Lexi Sun decided to transfer, but that deck this year still has a lot of young talent. White is one of the best outside hitters in the country while Shook should grow as a sophomore in facilitating the offense. Talented players like Yaazie Bedart-Ghani and Orie Agbaji could be more prominent too, but the big key will be the middle blocker position with the loss of Ogbogu. Morgan Johnson improved as a junior and the secret weapon is Brionne Butler, a 6’4″ middle blocker who redshirted in 2017 after coming in as the #2 recruit in the nation. The biggest question though once again will be passing.


  • 2017 Finish/Rank: National Championship Match, #3 in final VM Top 25
  • 2017 Record: 30-2 (17-1 SEC)
  • Starters Likely Returning for 2018: 3
  • Key Returners: MB Rachael Kramer (2017 AVCA Third-Team AA)
  • Key Losses: MB Rhamat Alhassan (Four-time AVCA AA, Two-time First-Team), RS Shainah Joseph (2017 AVCA Second-Team AA), OH Carli Snyder (2017 AVCA Second-Team AA), L Caroline Knop (2017 AVCA All-America HM)
  • Bottom Line: The Gators had arguably the best season in program history, reaching the National Championship match for the second time ever in addition to winning the SEC along with 30 victories. They lose one of the program’s best senior classes and will have plenty to fill for the year ahead. Kramer eases some in the middle for Alhassan, while Paige Hammons should be ready to move into a star role after coming in as a highly touted freshman in 2017. Speaking of well-regarded freshmen, Florida will have a host of skilled new faces led by the #1 recruit in Thayer Hall, who should make a huge impact immediately. Adding to the newcomers is 6’7″ setter Holly Carlton, a transfer from UNC who should make for an intimidating block with the 6’8″ Kramer. They should stick around for a shot at the SEC once again, but 2018 may serve as a build-up for another even bigger run in 2019.


  • 2017 Finish/Rank: Elite Eight, #7 in final VM Top 25
  • 2017 Record: 25-10 (14-6 Pac-12)
  • Starters Likely Returning for 2018: 3 + Libero
  • Key Returners: OH Khalia Lanier (2017 AVCA First-Team AA)
  • Key Losses: RS Brittany Abercrombie (2017 AVCA Third-Team AA), RS Niki Withers (2017 Pac-12 HM)
  • Bottom Line: After starting 2017 unranked, USC made its way to the Elite Eight and came a point away from upending Florida. They do have a couple of questions for 2018 though. Maybe the most important is how will Brent Crouch transition into the head coaching job after Mick Haley was surprisingly fired. Beyond that, the biggest question is how do they replace Abercrombie and Withers on the right pin. Still though, there is enough depth on the team to fill some of those holes and help out Player of the Year candidate Khalia Lanier. They also tacked on two-time All-WCC middle Jasmine Gross to the fold. Maybe the biggest boost though would be if they get soon-to-be sophomore Brooke Botkin to play like she did at the end of the year when she had 27 kills in the final two matches.


  • 2017 Finish/Rank: Elite Eight, #6 in final VM Top 25
  • 2017 Record: 29-4 (17-1 SEC)
  • Starters Likely Returning for 2018: 3
  • Key Returners: OH Leah Edmond (Two-Time AVCA AA, 2017 First-Team), S Madison Lilley (2017 AVCA Second-Team AA)
  • Key Losses: MB Kaz Brown (2017 AVCA All-America HM), L Ashley Dusek (2017 AVCA All-America HM), MB Emily Franklin (2017 All-SEC First-Team)
  • Bottom Line: Kentucky is fresh off of its best season in program history, as they cracked the Elite Eight for the first time after winning the SEC and earning a top four seed. They’ll have to weather a bit of a storm of losses, mainly in regards to their defense with a pair of middles and one of the best liberos in the country, Ashley Dusek, graduating. She also was the start to the offense with great passing, but an injury that vaulted Gabby Curry into the lineup gives the team more experience without her. If they can find a way to piece together the defense then they should be more than okay, as dynamic offense stars Leah Edmond and Madison Lilley should help give the Wildcats one of the top attacks in 2018. Avery Skinner will also be key, as the highly-touted freshman was second on the team in kills in year one and will be looking to make a big jump as a sophomore.


  • 2017 Finish/Rank: Final Four, #2 in final VM Top 25
  • 2017 Record: 33-2 (19-1 Big Ten)
  • Starters Likely Returning: 1 + Libero
  • Key Returners: L Kendall White (2017 AVCA Second-Team AA)
  • Key Losses: OH Simone Lee (Two-Time AVCA First-Team AA), MB Haleigh Washington (Three-time AVCA First-Team AA), OH Ali Frantti (2017 AVCA All-America HM), S/OH Abby Detering (2017 AVCA All-America HM), RS Heidi Thelen (2017 AVCA All-America HM)
  • Bottom Line: The Nittany Lions had a fantastic year where they were number one for a majority of the season but fell in the Final Four. Now, they hit the reboot button as they return just one starter and the libero. They also lost players to transfer in former highly-touted recruits Cami May and Michaela Putnicki. The good news though is Penn State always recruits so well, including for this upcoming season, that the cupboards are full. They also garnered a huge addition with graduate transfer and former North Carolina outside hitter/two-time All-ACC performer Taylor Leath. They’ll still be ultra talented but the question will be how ready and experienced can the team be with so many questions.

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Penn State was 33-2 in 2017, not 33-3.

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