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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | August 20, 2019

3 things we learned from the 2019 DII women's volleyball preseason poll

Tampa wins 2018 DII volleyball national championship

The 2018 reigning champion Tampa Spartans sit atop the AVCA preseason DII women’s volleyball rankings — to no one’s surprise. It's the 43rd time in program history that Tampa has earned the top spot in the DII women's volleyball poll.

The poll last season was a thrill ride that saw the No. 1 team change on what seemed like a weekly basis. Tampa entered the NCAA tournament as the No. 11-ranked team in DII women's volleyball and left with its third title. What does that mean for 2019? Let's take a look at how the first top 25 of the season shaped up and see what's in store. First, here's the complete preseason top 25:

THE 2019 AVCA PRESEASON TOP 25 

Rank School Points Final 2018 record Final 2018 ranking
1 Tampa (43) 1142 35-4 1
2 Cal State San Bernardino 1040 28-3 4
3 Western Washington (1) 1023 32-5 2
4 Washburn (2) 981 33-5 3
5 Concordia - St. Paul 931 24-9 6
6 Minnesota Duluth 905 28-6 5
7 Lewis 828 30-9 7
8 Northern State 790 26-5 10
9 Southwest Minnesota State 732 23-9 8
10 Tarleton State 688 32-6 9
11 Nebraska-Kearney 655 33-3 12
12 Ferris State 561 27-5 14
13 Wheeling 548 37-5 11
14 Rockhurst 512 32-7 16
15 Palm Beach Atlantic 487 29-5 13
16 Barry 462 29-4 19
17 Central Missouri 436 25-8 15
18 Drury 369 28-7 17
19 Cal State L. A. 288 22-6 22
T-20 Cal Poly Pomona 244 24-6 18
T-20 Texas A&M-Commerce 244 30-6 21
22 Central Oklahoma 179 27-7 23
23 Central Washington 144 23-6 25
24 West Florida 125 26-8 24
25 Wingate 104 32-2 20

Others receiving votes: Gannon 61; Colorado Mesa 58; Michigan Tech 55; Wayne State (Neb.) 49; Azusa Pacific 47; Sioux Falls 31; Colorado School of Mines 30; Ashland 26; Northwest Missouri State 26; Chaminade 25; Florida Southern 23; American International 19; Saint Leo 19; Angelo State 16; Hillsdale 16; Illinois-Springfield 12; Dixie State-Utah 6; Cal State San Marcos 5

1. Tampa volleyball is No. 1 in DII women's volleyball

The Spartans won their third national championship in 2018. All of those have come in the past 13 seasons. That 43 times they've been ranked No. 1 in the poll is second only to Concordia-St. Paul (81) for the most No. 1 rankings in history. The next closest is Nebraska-Kearney with 26.

The last time Tampa won a championship prior to 2018 was in 2014. The following 2015 season saw Tampa capture the No. 1 ranking three times and remain in the top 10 for all 14 weeks of the season. In fact, no team has more top-10 appearances than Tampa, who has now been ranked there 276 times. Central Missouri trails in a distant second with 225 lifetime trips to the top 10.

TOURNEY FAQ: The complete guide to the DII women's volleyball championship

2. The Northern Sun remains the benchmark of DII women's volleyball, we think

Surprise, surprise. There are four NSIC volleyball teams amongst the top 25. In fact, all four teams are inside the top 10 with Concordia-St. Paul at No. 5, Minnesota Duluth at No. 6, Northern State at No. 8, and Southwest Minnesota State at No. 9. The surprise, however, may be that there were no teams from the NSIC represented in last season's DII women's volleyball finals in Pittsburgh, with Washburn emerging to the final eight from the Central Region. 

DII VOLLEYBALL HISTORY: Concordia-St. Paul and the other programs with the most titles

Which brings us to the MIAA. The conference is also represented by four schools — No. 4 Washburn, No. 11 Nebraska-Kearney, No. 22 Central Missouri, and No. 22 Central Oklahoma. For the Jennies, it is their 426th time landing in the top 25, a record not even close to being broken. For Washburn, there will be a lot of eyes on the Ichabods in 2019, and rightfully so. Six of the ten players from the 3-0 sweep of Wingate in the DII women's volleyball finals return.

Eleven conferences are represented in the preseason poll and seven send multiple teams to the top 25. The NSIC and MIAA are tied with the most teams— four — in the top 25. The California Collegiate Athletic Association, Great Lakes Valley Conference, and Sunshine State Conference are right behind with three teams apiece, while the Lone Star Conference and Great Northwest Athletic Conference send two each. 

2018 IN REVIEW: Tampa wins third title | See the bracket

3. There are no newcomers to the 2019 AVCA poll

All 25 teams that finished the season ranked in the top 25 remain, albeit in different spots than last season's finish. Only three teams are starting where they left off: No. 1 Tampa, No. 7 Lewis, and No. 24 West Florida. Wingate dropped the most, falling from No. 20 to No. 25 despite being a 2018 quarterfinalist. Cal State LA and Barry share the honor of biggest riser, each three spots higher than they finished last season.

Five of last year's quarterfinalists found their way to the top 10. Tampa obviously sits atop the poll with national-runners up Western Washington at No. 3, the highest preseason ranking in school history. Washburn is right behind at No. 4, Lewis comes in at No. 7 and Tarleton State sits at No. 10. Wheeling is just outside the top 10 at No. 13, while Wingate rounds out the rankings at No. 25.

Somewhat surprisingly, American International is outside the top 25. The Yellow Jackets fought their way to Pittsburgh as the sixth seed in its region before earning the eighth seed and the unenviable task of playing No.1 seeded Tampa in the first round of the DII women's volleyball finals. The Yellow Jackets did receive 19 votes and return four players that played in all three sets in Pittsburgh, so they could be ones to watch. 

(All poll historical data taken from the official AVCA poll record books.)

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