We have reached the halfway point of the 2018 volleyball season and every game from here on out will go toward determining conference championships and establishing the NCAA tournament field.
In the latest AVCA coaches poll released Monday, BYU and Stanford remain at the top with Minnesota continuing its impressive conference play and Oregon getting two ranked road wins after going 0-2 the previous week.
Here are five takeaways from this week’s AVCA coaches top 25 poll.
|RANK||SCHOOL||TOTAL POINTS ADJUSTED||2018 RECORD||PREVIOUS RANK|
Minnesota trades spots with Nebraska after win
The Golden Gophers finally dropped a set in Big Ten play. That said, a road sweep against No. 3 Nebraska would’ve been even more impressive than the 3-1 victory it posted in Lincoln. The Big Ten will have top matchups every weekend which could lead to chaos until the last week of the season, but Minnesota has already beaten the three other teams projected to compete for the conference title — Penn State, Wisconsin and Nebraska — with a game looming against No. 7 Illinois to take further control of the conference.
Oregon rewarded for bounceback week
After home losses to Arizona and Arizona State, the Oregon Ducks dropped eight spots, but had an opportunity for earning those back this past week at UCLA and Southern Cal. The Ducks came out inspired for better results than the previous week and posted two impressive 3-0 sweeps in Los Angeles. AVCA poll voters gave the Ducks back six spots, to No. 14, which shows that they believe the team in Eugene is better than its 0-2 week.
Very few freshman are playing up the level of @brookeyy_5. After two more stellar defensive showings, she earned her second Pac-12 freshman of the week award of the season #GoDucks— Oregon Volleyball (@OregonVB) October 8, 2018
Story ➡️ https://t.co/tkBNCBiD2O pic.twitter.com/lXGWwNCwzD
Baylor falls again, but stays in top 25
The Big 12 had three teams in the preseason AVCA poll, with Baylor at No. 16. Following Baylor’s loss to Kansas on Saturday, it looked like No. 4 Texas might be the lone Big 12 team in the rankings, but Baylor stayed in at No. 24. Even if unranked, Baylor likely would make the tournament if it started today, however, the Bears haven’t played up to expectations lately. Kansas received 10 votes after beating the Bears.
Look out for the Sun Devils
For the first time since Nov. 16, 2015, Arizona State is in the AVCA top 25 — and there’s not a team more deserving of that recognition after its past two weeks. In straight weeks, the 25th-ranked Sun Devils have rattled off a sweep at No. 12 Oregon and home against No. 15 Washington. Despite losing to No. 22 Washington State in straight sets, the win against the Huskies obviously impressed voters enough to give them the top-25 ranking.
Louisville benefits from other losses
Coming in at No. 25 last week, the Louisville Cardinals had two sweeps against unranked Duke and Wake Forest this week to jump three spots due to Arizona, Baylor and Utah all losing this week. The Cardinals have won seven in a row and play No. 6 Pittsburgh in two weeks for what should be a potentially decisive game for the conference.
The #ACCVB Players of the Week are IN! Congratulations to this week's honorees!— ACC Volleyball (@ACCVolleyball) October 8, 2018
Player of the Week: Nika Markovic, RS, @Pitt_VB
Freshman of the Week: Emily Scott, MB, @UofLVolleyball https://t.co/jXPpatzrVc pic.twitter.com/1K6708SmEd
Other notable takeaways:
Along with UCLA, Southern Cal and Washington, Purdue lost this week and all dropped three spots. Michigan, which beat the Boilermakers was the week’s second biggest mover to No. 13.
Pittsburgh also is starting to get more recognition as one of two remaining unbeaten teams, moving past two Big Ten squads to No. 6.