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Wayne Staats | NCAA.com | August 30, 2019

2019 NCAA volleyball season: The essential guide to top teams, players, matches and rankings

Women's volleyball is officially back

The 2019 NCAA women's volleyball season starts Friday, Aug. 30, as the country's top teams and players get ready for what should be a year full of long rallies, giant blocks and impressive digs.

Before the first serve of the season, we take a look at what you need to know.

2019 Women's College Volleyball: Season preview

Stanford brings back three 2018 First Team All-Americans (two-time National Player of the Year Kathryn Plummer, setter Jenna Gray, libero Morgan Hentz), is the defending champion and received 62 of 64 first-place votes in the preseason AVCA Poll.

But that doesn't mean there won't be surprises or thrillers during the season: Stanford will play six top-10 teams before opening Pac-12 play. And just look at other teams near the top.

Sure, Nebraska, Texas and Penn State should compete for another title. But Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, BYU and Florida are all programs ranked in the top 10 and looking for their first national title. So it could be a season of firsts for some of the big-name teams. And there are other surging teams, as Pitt and Marquette went a combined 58-9 last season and might be ready to set new program heights — again. Both are ranked in the top 16.

SEASON PREVIEW: Teams with the best chances to go undefeated

But there's more excitement than just the teams (and players) in the Top 25.

Cincinnati's Jordan Thompson, a Third Team All-American, is back after leading the nation in kills, points, kills per set and points per set. Her 827 kills were 240 more than No. 2 finisher Lindsey Ruddins of UCSB (587 kills).

UNLV's Mariena Hayden is now a junior after her 114 aces led the nation, helping the Rebels win 22 matches and reach the NIVC semifinal. She had a UNLV-record nine aces in a match against Youngstown State.

Also out west, Dani Drews of Utah is poised for another big season after earning Second Team All-American recognition as a sophomore. She set a program record for kills twice in a week in 2018, breaking the three-set record with 22 against Southern California and then breaking the four-set mark with 30 against Colorado.

2019 NCAA women's volleyball: Rankings

Here's how the first AVCA Top 25 poll looks, including the teams' matches for the season-opening weekend. Top 25 matches are in bold:

Rank Team Points 2018 Record 2019 opening Weekend
Stanford (62)
1,598 34-1 at College of Charleston (Fri.)
vs. Duke (Sat.) (Charleston, SC)
Nebraska (1)
1,451 29-7 vs. No. 18 Creighton (Fri.)
vs. UCLA (Sat.)
1,414 27-4 at North Carolina (Fri.)
vs. Florida St. (Sat.) (Chapel Hill, NC)
1,385 23-5 vs. Northern Iowa (Fri.)
vs. No. 14 Southern California (Sun.)
1,329 25-7 vs. Florida St. (Fri.) (Chapel Hill, NC)
at North Carolina (Sat.)
1,258 32-4 at No. 19 Tennessee (Fri.)
vs. No. 19 Tennessee (Sun.)
1,204 26-5 vs. No. 23 Cal Poly (Salt Lake City) (Fri.)
at Utah (Fri)
vs. Saint Mary's (Salt Lake City) (Sat.)
Penn State (1)
1,182 26-8 vs. Hofstra (Fri.)
vs. Holy Cross (Sat.)
vs. Wichita State (Sun.)
1,111 31-2 vs. Boise State (Fri.)
vs. Utah Valley (Fri.)
vs. No. 16 Marquette (Sat.)
1,028 26-7 at No. 25 Louisville (Fri.)
vs. Dayton (Louisville) (Sat.)
934 23-11 vs. UC Irvine (Fri.)
vs. Boston College (Sat.)
827 30-2 vs. Cleveland State (Fri.)
vs. Cincinnati (Fri.)
vs. South Carolina (Sat.)
797 20-13 vs. St. John's (Honolulu) (Fri.)
vs. No. 21 San Diego (Honolulu) (Sat.)
at Hawai'i (Sun.)
Southern California
664 22-11 at Texas State (Fri.)
at No. 4 Texas (Sun.)
645 24-10 vs. Oakland (Fri.)
vs. Northern Arizona (Fri.)
vs. Tennessee Tech (Sat.)

596 28-7

vs. Utah Valley (Provo, Utah) (Fri.)
vs. Boise State (Provo, Utah) (Fri.)
at No. 9 BYU (Sat.)

571 24-9 vs. Ohio (Sun.)
457 29-5 at No. 2 Nebraska (Fri.)
vs. No. 20 Baylor (Lincoln, NE) (Sat.)
438 26-6 vs. No. 6 Illinois (Fri.)
at No. 6 Illinois (Sun.)
407 20-9 vs. UCLA (Lincoln, NE) (Fri.)
vs. No. 18 Creighton (Lincoln, NE) (Sat.)
San Diego
313 18-13 at Hawai'i (Fri.)
vs. No. 13 Washington (Honolulu) (Sat.)
vs. St. John's (Honolulu) (Sat.)
Washington State
289 23-10 at James Madison (Fri.)
vs. Iowa (Harrisonburg, VA) (Sat.)
vs. Stony Brook (Harrisonburg, VA) (Sat.)
Cal Poly
213 25-3 vs. No. 7 Kentucky (Salt Lake City) (Fri.)
vs. Saint Mary's (Salt Lake City) (Fri.)
at Utah (Sat.)
157 22-11 vs. Appalachian State (Fri.)
vs. Loyola Marymount (Fri.)
vs. Samford (Sat.)
120 22-9 vs. 10 Florida (Fri.)
vs. Texas A&M (Sat.)
vs. Dayton (Sun.)

Others receiving votes and listed on two or more ballots: Missouri 100; Utah 56; Colorado State 51; UCF 45; Pepperdine 36; Florida State 33; Hawai'i 13; Northern Iowa 13; TCU 10; UCLA 7; Cincinnati 6; Rice 6; South Carolina 6; Texas State 6; Loyola Marymount 4; Colorado 3; Kansas 2.

PRESEASON POLL: Breaking down the Top 25 rankings

2019 NCAA women's volleyball: Top opening-weekend matches

There are nine matches between ranked teams to open the weekend, including a double dip of No. 6 Illinois vs. No. 19 Tennessee. The teams battle in Knoxville before heading to Champaign.

On Friday, Wisconsin and National Player of the Year candidate Dana Rettke meet Florida State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The Badgers are the preseason Big Ten favorite and have to travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., to face the Seminoles. FSU is led by senior Payton Caffrey and junior Taryn Knuth.

But it's possible no match will bring the noise like the Nebraska-Creighton showdown on at 8 p.m. ET Friday.

Just look at the crowd from the Nebraska scrimmage.

Here's a viewer's guide to keep you busy all weekend long:

Friday, Aug. 30, 2019 (all times EST) | Scoreboard

  • No. 7 Kentucky vs. No. 23 Cal Poly | 12 p.m. | Salt Lake City, Utah
  • No. 5 Wisconsin vs. Florida State | 3:30 p.m. | Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • No. 20 Baylor vs. UCLA | 5:30 p.m. | Lincoln, Nebraska
  • No. 10 Florida at No. 25 Louisville | 7 p.m. | Louisville, Kentucky
  • No. 1 Stanford at College of Charleston | 7 p.m. | Charleston, South Carolina
  • No. 12 Pitt vs. Cincinnati | 7 p.m. | Pittsburgh
  • No. 18 Creighton at No. 2 Nebraska | 8 p.m. | Lincoln, Nebraska
  • No. 6 Illinois at No. 19 Tennessee | 8 p.m. | Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Northern Iowa at No. 4 Texas | 8 p.m. | Austin, Texas
  • St. John's at No. 13 Washington | 10:45 p.m. | Honolulu

Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019

  • No. 22 Washington State vs. Iowa | 10 a.m. | Harrisonburg, Virginia
  • No. 1 Stanford vs. Duke | 4:30 p.m. | Charleston, South Carolina
  • No. 10 Florida vs. Dayton | 4:30 p.m. | Louisville, Kentucky
  • No. 5 Wisconsin at North Carolina | 5:30 p.m. | Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • No. 18 Creighton vs. No. 20 Baylor | 5:30 p.m. | Lincoln, Nebraska
  • No. 12 Pitt vs. South Carolina | 7 p.m. | Pittsburgh
  • UCLA at No. 2 Nebraska | 8 p.m. | Lincoln, Nebraska
  • No. 9 BYU vs. No. 16 Marquette | 9 p.m. | Provo, Utah
  • No. 13 Washington vs. No. 21 San Diego | 10:45 p.m. | Honolulu

Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019

  • No. 14 Southern California at No. 4 Texas | 2 p.m. | Austin, Texas
  • No. 6 Illinois vs. No. 19 Tennessee | 2 p.m. | Champaign, Illinois
  • No. 13 Washington at Hawaii | 11 p.m. | Honolulu

Returning AVCA All-Americans

Here are all the returning players with their position designation from last year along with their current year.

First Team

Player School Position 2019 Year
Jenna Gray Stanford S Sr.
Morgan Hentz Stanford L Sr.
Kathryn Plummer Stanford OH Sr.
Jacqueline Quade Illinois OH Sr.
Dana Rettke Wisconsin MB Jr.
Stephanie Samedy Minnesota RS Jr.
Lauren Stivrins Nebraska MB Jr.
Kendall White Penn State L Sr.

Second Team

Player School Position 2019 Year
Allie Barber Marquette OH Sr.
Brooke Botkin Southern California OH Jr.
Dani Drews Utah OH Jr.
Leah Edmond Kentucky OH Sr.
Shelly Stafford Baylor MB Sr.
Audriana Fitzmorris Stanford RS Sr.
Sydney Hilley Wisconsin S Jr.
Mary Lake BYU L Sr.
Madison Lilley Kentucky S Jr.
Regan Pittman Minnesota MB Jr.
Ronika Stone Oregon MB Sr.
Micaya White Texas OH Sr.

Third Team

Player School Position 2019 Year
Kara Bajema Washington OH Sr.
Madison Duello Wisconsin RS Sr.
Heather Gneiting BYU MB So.
Nika Markovic Pitt RS Sr.
Blake Mohler Purdue MB Sr.
Jonni Parker Penn State RS So.
Jordan Thompson Cincinnati OH Sr.

2018 NCAA women's volleyball season recap:

The preseason poll had Stanford and Nebraska Nos. 1 and 2, and though that was the order in the final poll, there was a lot of movement during the season.

BYU upset the top-ranked Cardinal on Friday, Aug. 31, giving Stanford what would be its only defeat all season. The Cougars' win allowed Minnesota to rise to No. 1, though the Gophers lasted at the top for only one week.

After that, BYU took over No. 1 — and remained there until it lost to Loyola Marymount on Nov. 20. Stanford then jumped to No. 1 going into the NCAA tournament. Thanks to its exciting 3-2 win against then-No. 6 Nebraska in the final, the Cardinal stayed in the top spot, while the Huskers moved up four spots to second.

Here's how the Top 25 looked (and moved) each week during the season:




2019 NCAA volleyball tournament: Schedule, bracket information

The selection show is set for Sunday, Dec. 1. Here's the full breakdown, including rounds.

  • Selection Show: Sunday, Dec. 1
  • First and Second Rounds: December 5-7 at campus sites
  • Regionals: December 13-14 at campus sites
  • Semifinals and National Championship: December 19 and 21 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Wisconsin, Nebraska volleyball stand atop first NCAA DI Committee in-season rankings

The NCAA DI Women's Volleyball Committee revealed its first in-season top-10 rankings today, with Wisconsin and Nebraska as the headliners.

NCAA DI women's volleyball committee to reveal first in-season top 10 on Sunday

On Sunday, Sep. 24, the first top 10 DI women's volleyball rankings will be revealed during the Tennessee-Kentucky match. Here's what you need to know.

Nebraska and Washington State volleyball make big moves in Week 4's Power 10 rankings

Week 3's top-tier matchups shook up Michella Chester’s Power 10 rankings.

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