BYU, Stanford, Minnesota, Illinois, Texas. It’s pretty clear that — unless something crazy happens in the final week — those teams will be the top five in the AVCA poll entering the tournament.
Aside from Wisconsin moving back to No. 8 instead of tied with Penn State at No. 7, there wasn’t any movement through the top 13 teams. BYU did, however, gain back one first-place vote from Stanford from last week.
So with just one week before the selection committee reveals the field of 64 for the NCAA Division I women’s volleyball tournament, this week’s takeaways from the AVCA coaches poll might be a bit more conversational
Biggest jump: Cal Poly
In a week when no team had a jump of more than one spot, Cal Poly has to get the nod here. With Southern California losing on Sunday, the Mustangs took the No. 14 spot as the Trojans slid back one ranking and had a net change of 126 points.
Since their loss in five sets to Hawaii, the Mustangs have won every set they’ve played on a six-game winning streak to close the regular season. Now, the Big West champs can reap the possible reward of jumping even higher in the rankings if other teams lose in the final week while the Mustangs rest for the NCAA tournament.
Biggest drop: Washington State
A few weeks ago it appeared Washington State could finish second in the Pac-12, even without its star outside hitter Taylor Mims. Even with Mims back, the Cougars have lost three straight, including two at home, were upset by Cal for the second time this year and have now declined to No. 20 as its rival Washington jumped them.
It would be a stunner if Washington State didn’t make the NCAA tournament. Regardless, this is not the stretch the Cougars were hoping for at the end. But two home games against Oregon State and No. 19 Washington could get them on the right track heading into the postseason.
Marquette nearly top 15
Southern Cal nearly fell another spot, with just an eight-point margin between it and the Marquette Golden Eagles. Last week Marquette was 78 points behind Oregon and 165 points behind the Trojans. Oregon’s loss to Colorado is what caused Marquette to jump a spot but there could be a bigger jump soon.
It’s easy to forget about how good Marquette has been. Only it and Creighton are ranked out of the Big East, and the Golden Eagles haven’t pulled off an upset since beating Southern Cal on Sept. 7. Nonetheless, their only losses are to Baylor early in the season, Wisconsin, BYU and Creighton twice. A Big East tournament championship this week could put Marquette in range of hosting the first two rounds.
UCLA drops out
The Bruins have lost seven of their last nine but had somehow managed to stay in the top 25 until this week. They fell just behind Colorado as the team outside of the rankings with the second-most top-25 votes after the Buffs upset Oregon on the road this week.
UCLA lost to Arizona this past week, which knocked it out of the top 25, but the Bruins have a monster week ahead of it. They will welcome Colorado to Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday then close out the regular season at home against Southern Cal on Friday. At 13-12 right now, the Bruins need at least one win this week to solidify themselves in the tournament, which could in turn put them back in the top 25.
Baylor rejoins Texas as only ranked Big-12 teams
Since Baylor started 4-4 in the Big 12, the Bears won six straight before losing against No. 5 Texas in four sets this past Friday. Despite the loss, Baylor is back in the top 25 and might be hitting its stride before tournament play.
Keep in mind, this was a team that beat Wisconsin early in the year. They’ve since gone much different paths, but the Bears will still enter the NCAA tournament as a potential sleeper team — regardless of ranking — with Yossiana Pressley, Aniah Philo and Shelly Fanning leading the attack.