After more than a month of steady volleyball action, the twists and turns in the landscape are starting to flatten out and a picture of the country’s best teams is coming into focus.
The top three teams in this week’s AVCA Top 25 remained the same, with Florida, the only undefeated team left in the country, staying firm at No. 1, trailed by No. 2 Stanford and No. 3 Penn State. The Gators received 60 of 64 possible first-place votes, while the Cardinal and the Nittany Lions received two apiece.
The conversation about the best team in the country will likely heat up if the Gators lose a match in the near future, considering Penn State only has one loss and Stanford has two, both to Penn State. But as things stand today, it’s hard to argue against an undefeated Florida team being tops in the land.
Elsewhere, in case you missed it…
…after a week in which Nebraska took down then-No. 3 Minnesota and rallied to top No. 7 Wisconsin in a span of 48 hours, the AVCA voters rewarded the Huskers with a four-spot bump in this week’s poll. Nebraska is the No. 4 team in the country, seven points ahead of No. 5 Texas.
The Huskers are an interesting team: they’re the only team with three losses in the Top 10, but they’ve also played half of their 14 matches this season against ranked opponents, beating four of them. They hung in with current No. 1 Florida early in the season, going to five sets, and they’ve beaten the current Nos. 3, 6, and 7 in the country.
Their resume is as stacked as any in the country, and there’s no rest incoming: the Huskers face No. 14 Michigan State this week before a rematch with No. 7 Wisconsin, and a meeting with No. 18 Purdue is also on the horizon. If Nebraska can keep its loss total at three through the next two weeks, they could challenge for a Top 3 spot in the nation.
Of course, when one team (in this case, Nebraska) is rocketing up the rankings, there’s often a team doing the exact opposite.
That’s what’s happening to Minnesota; after multiple weeks atop the pile, the Golden Gophers have watched their grip on the rankings slip away. A straight-sets loss to Michigan State last week, and this week’s defeat at the hands of the red-hot Huskers, has Minnesota slipping from No. 1 two weeks ago to No. 6 this week.
The Gophers, led by a junior who some coaches think is a top-three player in the country in Samantha Seliger-Swenson, are still a threat to dominate the best teams on any given night. And No. 6 is nothing to scowl at for head coach Hugh McCutcheon’s team. But Minnesota suddenly doesn’t look as infallible as it did just a couple dozen days ago.
Now let’s shift gears and look at the rankings on the whole: did any teams join the Top 25 this week? Last week, Michigan State was the only addition. This week, No. 25 Colorado fills that role, showing up in the ranks after two straight wins, including a 3-1 victory against then-No. 12 Oregon.
And what about teams falling out of favor? Former No. 21 Florida State is the only team to leave the Top 25 this week; the Seminoles currently sit at “No. 28” in the country, behind Cal Poly and Western Kentucky in the receiving votes section.
As far as this week’s biggest risers and fallers are concerned, Southern California made the biggest leap of any team this week, jumping five spots from No. 20 to No. 15. The Trojans leapt past two fellow Pac 12 squads in Utah and Oregon; consequently, the Ducks are this week’s biggest faller, dropping four spots after their aforementioned loss to Colorado.
Now, a brief look at the three best matchups from the week days ahead:
- No. 14 Michigan State at No. 4 Nebraska, Wednesday
- No. 6 Minnesota at No. 7 Wisconsin, Wednesday
- No. 2 Stanford at No. 16 Oregon, Friday