Women’s volleyball: What do coaches think about their sport and its stars?
With dominant teams jockeying for the No. 1 ranking, stars dazzling and acrobatic plays being made on a regular basis, women’s college volleyball has been thoroughly entertaining this season.
If you haven’t been watching, you’re missing out.
We’re in the thick of the conference schedule. As we get set to enter the home stretch, we polled coaches around the country to find answers for big-picture questions.
We received responses from more than 15 head and assistant coaches. Most of them came from Top 25 programs.
Here are the results of our survey:
*Note: We only listed the top five vote-getters in each category. If the list doesn’t extend to five, then no player, coach or team received multiple votes after the cutoff point.
*In your eyes, who’s the best team in the country?
Florida is the only undefeated team remaining, jumping two spots in last week’s AVCA Poll. The Gators have wins over Texas, Nebraska, North Carolina and Florida State. Rachael Kramer, Carli Snyder and Rhamat Alhassan are three of Florida’s standouts.
Last week was eventful for the Top 5. Minnesota and Penn State, ranked first and second in last week’s poll, both lost. What do the coaches’ rankings above tell us?
That there’s not much separation between these five teams.
*Who’s the best player in the country?
|1||Kathryn Plummer, Stanford|
|2||Samantha Seliger-Swenson, Minnesota|
|T3||Rhamat Alhassan, Florida|
|T3||Ali Frantti, Penn State|
Plummer ran away with this one. It’s easy to see why. The 6-foot-6 outside hitter won a national championship as a freshman. She was the AVCA Freshman of the Year. Plummer was named to the NCAA All-Tournament team, and she’s even better as a sophomore. Stanford lost to Penn State, but Plummer registered a season-high 27 kills. She has 183 of those on the season.
*Who’s the best coach in the country that doesn’t get enough credit?
|1||Chris Lamb, Wichita State|
|T2||Tom Hilbert, Colorado State|
|T2||Travis Hudson, Western Kentucky|
|4||Jim McLaughlin Notre Dame|
|5||Brandon Rosenthal, Lipscomb|
Chris Lamb’s Shockers are off to a 10-3 start and are ranked 25th in the latest poll. He’s led Wichita State to 14 straight 20-win seasons. The Shockers have won six MVC titles under Lamb, including three conference tournament victories.
Lamb may not coach at a perennial powerhouse, but Wichita State is competitive, disciplined and tenacious every season.
*Who’s the best player in the country that doesn’t get enough credit?
|T1||Lydia Dimke, Creighton|
|T1||Carlyle Nusbaum, Lipscomb|
|3||Abbie Lehman, Wichita State|
|4||Ali Bastianelli, Illinois|
Lydia Dimke won Big East Player of the Year honors last season, yet it’s easy to forget how good she is. As a junior, she started all 36 matches for the Bluejays, averaging 11.36 assists and 2.67 digs per set. Creighton is up to No. 14 in the latest rankings. Dimke is a major reason why.
MORE: Full volleyball rankings
Nusbaum plays in the Atlantic Sun, so she doesn’t get the notoriety players at bigger schools do. But she’s extremely talented. Nusbaum was the ASUN Player of the Year in 2016 and could repeat this season. She leads Lipscomb in kills with 235. Her next closest teammate has 103. Nusbaum is an absolute star.
*What makes your sport great?
"It's the ultimate team sport, teamwork makes the dream work."
"The athleticism of the players. People underestimate just how gifted these women are."
"The way it showcases female athletes. Our players set a great example for the younger generation."
"Acrobatic plays. If you like crazy catches by football wide receivers, there's a similar art to our game."
"Speed and athleticism. These are great athletes that offer different attributes."
*Why should someone who’s not a college volleyball fan become a college volleyball fan?
"There is drama in almost every match. It showcases women's athletes better than any other sport!"
"The power speed and skill of volleyball. The athleticism of the women is off the charts."
"It's entertaining and highlights teamwork and leadership."
"The game is fast-paced and has some of the most elite female athletes in the country playing it."
"It's fast and there are highlight reel plays all the time."
"Highlight reel play after highlight reel play. Who doesn't want that?"