Women's volleyball: Minnesota stays No. 1, BYU the biggest riser in latest AVCA Coaches poll
The American Volleyball Coaches Association could have copied and pasted the top school names for the latest installment of its weekly Coaches Poll. The top seven schools maintained their rankings from last week with No. 1 Minnesota (11-0) receiving 40 first-place votes.
The Golden Gophers are one of four undefeated teams near the top of the poll. No. 2 Penn State (10-0), No. 3 Florida (7-0) and No. 5 Wisconsin (9-0) are also perfect on the season. Minnesota won the Boise State Tournament – its third consecutive tournament victory this season – after wins against Oregon State, Boise State and Idaho State. The Gophers have lost just five sets all season.
Conference superiority: While two of the three teams that fell out of the rankings this week are members of the Big Ten (Michigan State and Ohio State), the conference has established itself as the most dominant in the country. In addition to a trio of top-five teams, No. 13 Purdue (10-1), No. 14 Nebraska (7-3), and No. 20 Michigan (10-2) provide an impressive level of depth in the Big Ten, not just high-end talent.
If any conference could stack up top-to-bottom with the Big Ten, it's the Pac-12, which boasts seven ranked teams, including three in the top 10. No. 4 Stanford (7-2) received a first-place vote after sweeping Pacfic and Saint Mary's last week. No. 7 Washington (10-1) and No. 8 Oregon (7-1) are nearly perfect on the year with their only losses coming against No. 15 Creighton (7-4) and No. 6 Texas (7-2), respectively. No. 11 UCLA (7-2), No. 16 Utah (9-2), No. 21 USC (8-3) and No. 25 Colorado (10-1) round out the Pac-12 teams represented in the AVCA Coaches Poll.
Biggest movers: BYU (11-1) rose five spots to No. 9 after a 3-0 week in the Desert First Duel, including a five-set win over Utah. Veronica Jones-Perry paced the Cougars with 25 kills against the Utes. The only blemish on BYU's resume is a five-set loss to Baylor. The Cougars have played four matches at home, road and neutral locations, and they've been nearly unbeatable regardless of where they're playing.
Creighton (7-4) dropped seven spots in the poll to No. 15 after losing twice last week. The Bluejays have played a rigorous schedule – eight of the 11 opponents they've faced are currently ranked – and performed admirably, but losses to Wichita State and Iowa State caused Creighton to fall in the rankings.
Welcome to the party: No. 22 Northern Iowa (10-4), No. 24 Wichita State (8-3), and No. 25 Colorado (10-1) entered the top 25 this week.
After dropping two matches on the same day to high-level competition – Kentucky and Creighton in the Bluejay Invitational – the Panthers have won six of their last eight matches. They beat No. 18 Iowa State in five sets on the road and No. 14 Nebraska four days later.
The Shockers have been road warriors, going 7-2 in neutral and road matches this season. They were swept by Iowa State on Sunday but a four-set win over Creighton was enough to boost them into the top 25.
Colorado is riding a four-match winning streak, highlighted by a five-set road win over then-No. 22 Colorado State. Junior Alexa Smith led the Bison with 25 kills and 15 digs.
Get your popcorn ready: There's a handful of exciting matchups between ranked teams this week taking place across the country, starting with No. 3 Florida vs. No. 19 Florida State on Tuesday.
Here are other matchups to keep an eye on this week:
No. 21 USC vs. No. 11 UCLA on Wednesday
No. 14 Nebraska vs. No. 2 Penn State on Friday
No. 8 Oregon vs. No. 11 UCLA on Friday
No. 25 Colorado vs. No. 16 Utah on Friday
No. 20 Michigan vs. No. 1 Minnesota on Friday