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Janie Harris | NCAA.com | August 16, 2016

Three need-to-watch games to open 2016

  Texas and Nebraska will meet again in a rematch from the National Championship last year.

Sneakers are squeaking on courts across the nation as college volleyball teams practice in preparation for the upcoming season, and the season is inching closer and closer. The first weekend of volleyball season just days away, and as players prepare, fans should as well, including taking note which games to watch. For this first weekend, you do not want to miss these matchups.

Wisconsin vs. Hawaii

Aug. 27 at 1 a.m. ET

Yes, the game is on in the wee hours of the morning for many continental United States, but this matchup is between the fourth and sixth rank teams in the AVCA Coaches’ Poll.

Hawaii, coming off a stellar 29-2 season, is poised to win the Big West this year, and the reigning Big West Player of the Year senior Nikki Taylor returns to lead her team to another season of wins. She led the league in kills, blocks and aces, but she is not the only powerful player for the Warriors. Taylor is joined by Emily Maglio, Kalei Greeley and Savannah Kahakai, all with impressive stats that will make Hawaii a difficult team to beat for Wisconsin.

However, the Badgers just welcomed a killer recruiting class, and they are coming off a 26-7 season. Senior Laura Carlini steps onto the court this year as captain, and with her and her teammates striking stats, this game could go either way.

Nebraska vs. Texas

Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. ET

These two teams met last time when they competed for the national title in December 2015. Now, Texas has a chance for some revenge against the Huskers, who took the title last year after winning all three sets.

This year, the Huskers are poised to repeat their run to the national championship. An immense amount of talent returns but Nebraska is also welcoming incoming freshman and transfers who look to add depth and additional skill to this already well-supplied team.

As for Texas, they add a large group of young, talented women to their team for 2016. However, returners also take up most of the roster spots this year, too.

Nebraska is No. 1 in the AVCA preseason coaches poll, and Texas is right behind at No. 2.

Minnesota vs. Stanford

Aug. 28 at 4 p.m. ET

Minnesota, ranked three in the AVCA Coaches Poll, looks poised to defeat Stanford, ranked 11. However, both teams have powerful returners and solid recruits coming in.

Minnesota has Alyssa Goehner, Molly Lohman, Kayla Buford and Erica Handley, all of which played internationally before the beginning of this season, coming back to lead the team to victory. Still, Stanford brings back Hayley Hodson and Merete Lutz as well as many more, giving them a more experienced team than last year.

While Minnesota might look to have a win on its hands, it isn’t likely Stanford will hand the win over easily.

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