Those are the coveted spots heading into the NCAA Tournament, because the top four teams, should they survive the first two rounds, get to be regional hosts.
The NCAA Division I volleyball will meet in person to select the NCAA Tournament bracket, but in this case visited by phone to come up with this list, doing so only for matches through this past Sunday. So it does not include Florida’s victory at Kentucky.
They came up with this, with records followed by NCAA RPI:
“The whole intent of releasing the top 10 is to spark conversation and debate and get everyone excited about NCAA volleyball,” said Lisa Peterson, the chair of the committee who is deputy athletic director/senior women’s administrator at Oregon.
“All 10 of these schools and all the other teams we considered are playing incredibly well right now and it’s so great for the sport that our conversation took twice as long as we thought it would to get the Top 10.”
Peterson said “the only thing easy was Penn State at No. 1. Everything else was a debate.”
Veteran Penn State coach Russ Rose, whose team gave Stanford its two losses, said “It certainly has ramifications, because it’s the volleyball committee that’s responsible for seeding and selecting teams for the tournament.”
Rose knows that being a top-four host team is no small thing.
“In this age of saber metrics one could do a study on the winning percentage of people who are hosting,” Rose said. “We’ve won as a host and we’ve lost as a host. But certainly it’s challenging late in the year — unless you’re chartering — to go travel and play. Last year Stanford was the only one who was able to win on the road in the regionals. They had a veteran team.”
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So does Penn State, but Rose reminded how unpredictable the rest of the season and the tournament can be.
“I think six teams in our conference could win the national championship,” Rose said. “And I think Florida, Kentucky for sure, and Texas and Stanford and I’m sure there’s somebody else in the Pac-12 that I don’t know about and there’s probably some team out there laying low that’s really good.”
Texas coach Jerritt Elliott considered the Longhorns — who have lost in the last two national-title matches and been to five consecutive final fours — being No. 7 after escaping from Manhattan, Kansas, with a tough Big 12 win.
“Right now we need to take care of our side of the net,” Elliott said. “There is a lot of volleyball left to be played, and we will have to wait and see how this all pans out. There are a lot more wins and losses to be had with the top eight teams.”
The real bracket will be announced at 9 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, November 26 on ESPNU.
The NCAA Tournament starts November 30. The final four is in Kansas City, December 14-16.