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Brenden Welper | NCAA.com | August 31, 2019

12 NCAA volleyball underclassmen to watch in the 2019 women's season

Women's volleyball is officially back

The 2019 women's college volleyball season begins on Friday. And so too does the chase for the NCAA championship. 

Stanford and Nebraska have won the last four national titles. They're also ranked first and second in the preseason poll, respectively. Both schools have multiple players on this list.

Here are 12 underclassmen to watch in 2019, in no particular order.

SCHEDULE: Notable games for the opening weekend of women's volleyball

Brooke Nuneviller | Sophomore | Oregon

Nuneviller quickly etched her name into the program's record books in her first year at Oregon. She recorded the third-most digs (580) in school history and her 4.92 digs per-set average is the fourth-highest ever in a single season.

The libero posted double-digit digs in 26 consecutive matches to end the year. Nuneviller was also named the AVCA Pacific North Region Freshman of the Year in 2018 and made the All-Pac-12 Freshman Team.

Skylar Fields | Freshman | Texas

Fields enters the 2019 season as PrepVolleyball.com's No. 1 overall prospect. She also tops the website's Senior Aces list and 10-foot Club (10'8").

A member of the 2018 U.S. Junior National Team, the USA Today All-American isn't short on accolades or vertical ability. And she brings plenty of talent to a Texas club that is currently ranked fourth in the country. 

Three of the four Longhorns who recorded at least 200 kills in 2018 will return this season. Two of them (Brionne Butler and Logan Eggleston) are underclassmen as well. 

Nicklin Hames | Sophomore | Nebraska

Hames produced at a high volume as a freshman, setting a new school record for double-doubles in a season with 25 while averaging 10.49 assists and 3.32 digs per set. 

The soon-to-be sophomore is one of Nebraska's new co-captains along with Lauren Stivrins. 

Jonni Parker | Sophomore | Penn State

Parker was one of only two freshmen to be named an AVCA All-American in 2018. Her and BYU middle blocker Heather Gneiting both received Third Team All-America honors. She led the Nittany Lions in points (396.5) and total kills (331) during the regular season.

Parker earned three different Freshman of the Year awards: Big Ten, AVCA Northeast and Volleyball Magazine.

Her dominance continued well into the NCAA tournament. Parker averaged 12.1 points, 10.0 kills, and 5.8 digs in four postseason matches. Finally, she was named to the All-Big Ten First Team last season. 

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Heather Gneiting | Sophomore | BYU

Gneiting was the first-ever BYU Cougar to be named AVCA National Freshman of the Year. The middle blocker finished with the second-most points on the team with 326, second to only Roni Jones-Perry (585) who has since graduated.

BYU averaged 2.91 blocks per set in 2018, good enough for the fifth-highest mark in the nation. Gneiting was one of the main reasons for that defensive success. She led the Cougars in blocks per set with an average of 1.50.

This 6'4" phenom was also one of two freshman to be named to an AVCA All-American team last season, making the Third Team with the aforementioned Jonni Parker of Penn State.

Caitie Baird | Freshman | Stanford

The defending national champions are absolutely loaded across the board. With five seniors leading the Cardinal's title defense, floor time could be hard to come by. But don't let that stop you from keeping up with Stanford's freshman class.

Outside hitter Caitie Biard is No. 2 on PrepVolleyball.com's Senior Aces list. The versatility she displayed in high school makes her an intriguing prospect, having won Offensive Player of the Year four times and Defensive Player of the Year twice.

She was also a member of the 2018 U.S. Junior National Team. 

Kendall Kipp | Freshman | Stanford

Just one spot behind Baird on the Senior Aces list is fellow outside hitter Kendall Kipp. An Under Armour All-American, she's the third-tallest player on Stanford's roster at 6'5".

Could that height advantage give her an edge on the depth chart? It's possible. Although the Cardinal aren't an undersized team. 

Additionally, Kipp was ranked No. 2 on PrepVolleyball.com's Fab 50 list. 

Selina Xu | Freshman | Stanford

The third Stanford player on this list is setter Selina Xu. Another member of the U.S. Junior National Team, Xu was named to the San Jose Mercury News' All-Area Team in 2018.

Among her freshman counterparts, Xu might have the best chance at cracking the rotation. Her natural position is arguably the sport's most important. 

The fact that a freshman could play a key role in helping Stanford (potentially) cement a dynasty makes Xu difficult to overlook.

POSSIBLE PERFECTION: The DI women's volleyball teams with the best chance to go undefeated in 2019

Adanna Rollins | Sophomore | Minnesota

The AVCA All-North Region Freshman of the Year finished with the third-most kills (277) and the third-highest kills per set average (2.59) for the Golden Gophers in 2018. She was also one of five players on the team to score more than 300 points.

Rollins was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team in 2018. She, along with teammate Stephanie Samedy, also competed for USA Volleyball's Collegiate National Team at the World University Games back in July. 

Madi Kubik | Freshman | Nebraska

The Huskers fell just short of repeating as national champions last year and lost Mikaela Foecke and Kenzie Malloy to graduation. There are no seniors on this year's team. Which means that newcomers like Madi Kubik could step right into a big-time role. 

Kubik is PrepVolleyball.com's No. 4 overall prospect and was part of the 2018 U.S. Junior National Team. There are three other outside hitters on Nebraska's roster, all of whom have at least one year of college experience. 

Ella May Powell | Sophomore | Washington

Powell was an iron woman for the Huskies last season. Appearing in all 33 matches, she played every set as a six-rotation setter and led Washington in assists wire-to-wire.

Not surprisingly, she was selected to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team. Powell even received some national recognition as well. Volleyball Magazine named her a Second Team Freshman All-American, and she joined the U.S. National Team at the FIVB U20 World Championships earlier this summer. 

Thayer Hall | Sophomore | Florida

Hall began her collegiate career as the Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year. And she lived up to the hype as a freshman in 2018.

Despite missing seven matches due to injury, she still recorded the second-most kills on the roster at 288. Hall's kills per set average of 2.88 was a team high, and her 339.5 points were the third-highest for a Gator last season. 

She was one of five Florida players to post at least 300 points, 200 kills and a 2.50 points per-set average in 2018. Her efforts earned her a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team.

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