Things are coming down to the wire here. These are the last Power 10 rankings before the NCAA DI volleyball selection show on Sunday, Dec. 1. We have a few moves here that might seem out of the blue or unwarranted. But, with one week remaining in the regular season, I am really going to go with the teams I think deserve to be here. And per usual, quality wins are the most important thing.
Here are the latest Power 10 rankings:
Baylor is back in the No. 1 spot. The Bears took down the previous No. 1 team, Texas, and avenged their first loss of the season to the Longhorns. Before you say it, I know. Texas swept the Bears earlier in the season, and this time, the Bears won in five sets. So why should they be in front of the Longhorns just because their win is more recent? To start from the beginning, Baylor just executed the first win over the Longhorns since 2001, and they showed that they were a different team that is capable of taking down the big guys. So even though this is a team that you aren't used to seeing at the top in the past, they deserve to be up here. I also have them ahead of the Longhorns because the Bears have some bigger wins. Let's not forget, they've beaten Wisconsin, Creighton, Marquette, Hawai'i and now Texas. Also, Yossiana Pressley seems to be capable of anything.
The Longhorns are still one of the best teams in the country, but they will just move down to two after the loss to Baylor. They now have just three losses on the season — to Stanford, Rice and now Baylor. This Longhorns team has a lot of depth, with multiple offensive threats: Logan Eggleston, Brionne Butler, Micaya White, Skylar Fields and Asjia O'Neal. This Texas team is capable of a lot.
ALL-TIME LINEUP: Texas volleyball dream team
Stanford is at No. 3. And this is why I moved a few things around: Pittsburgh is normally in the third spot for me, but the Panthers haven't faced a top-ranked opponent in a few months. I know it isn't something they can control within their conference schedule, but I have to reward the teams that have much bigger wins. And Stanford is one of them. This team has a lot of huge wins and has had a really tough schedule this year. They had a few losses, but with the return of Kathryn Plummer, they are looking really good the week before the postseason.
Wisconsin is the second team that needs to be rewarded for their big wins this season. They just beat two top-10 teams within the last two weeks. They beat Minnesota for the second time this season two weeks ago, and then just capped off the past-weekend with their second sweep over Nebraska. Those are impressive wins, and this team is sitting on top of one of the strongest conferences in the country, the Big Ten. Now they have five top-10 wins, and deserve to be moved up for that.
Pittsburgh still only has one loss, so some might have expected them to be higher, as I had them in my previous Power 10 rankings. But I valued bigger wins more with the teams that are ahead of them, and as we get closer and closer to the selection show, I couldn't justify having them up at No. 2 without a stronger schedule. They are still a top-five team, though, and with their ACC championship and automatic qualification for the NCAA tournament, they have the chance to make a huge run in the postseason.
Nebraska had a really tough weekend in the Big Ten with matches against Minnesota and Wisconsin. They split the weekend, with a five-set win over Minnesota and a loss to Wisconsin. I moved them above the Gophers with that big win, where the Huskers won the first two sets, survived a momentum shift in the next two sets and then pulled out the win in the fifth set. They then fell to the Badgers in three straight sets.
Minnesota dropped to Nebraska over the weekend and move down just one spot to No. 7. This Gopher team keeps getting really close in the big games, but haven't been able to pull it out. But, I still think they are a really strong team. They just need to put it all together. Recently, Stephanie Samedy hasn't been their leading scorer, and other players have been putting a lot of their points on the board. They still have a big match against Penn State next week.
8. Penn State
Penn State will stay in the same spot as last week, after rounding out the last week with two sweeps over Rutgers and Indiana. I am really excited for their big matches against Minnesota and Wisconsin next week. That will be a great opportunity for the Nittany Lions to play on a big stage over two strong Big Ten teams.
The Huskies have been in the bottom end of my top-10 rankings for a few weeks now, and they will stay in it after finishing off the weekend with two wins. No matter what losses this team might have this season, you cannot take away the big wins from them. This team beat Wisconsin (twice) and Stanford, so the Huskies are clearly capable of it. They just need to put it all together. Kara Bajema will be a key asset, as she has been really strong lately for the Huskies.
Creighton is back into the Power 10. Marquette just falls out after its second loss to Creighton this past week. They will most likely face each other again though in the Big East conference tournament. Marquette has some bigger wins this season, but you have to give Creighton credit for pulling off the season sweep over Marquette. Colorado State has been close to the top 10 in the AVCA rankings, but they don't have a strong enough schedule to move up.