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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | January 5, 2021

2021 college volleyball rankings: Wisconsin leads the spring preseason women's AVCA poll

2021 college volleyball rankings: Breaking down the preseason women's AVCA poll

The AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 preseason poll is here. Finally! After a long wait, a somewhat full volleyball season seems to be right around the corner. 

Wisconsin is No. 1 with 40 first place-votes. Texas and Stanford follow at No. 2 and 3. Here's the full top 25:

RANK

TEAM (FIRST-PLACE VOTES)

1 Wisconsin (40)
2 Texas (17)
3 Stanford (3)
4 Kentucky (1)
5 Nebraska (1)
6 Baylor
7 Minnesota
8 Washington
9 Penn State
10 Utah
11 Florida
12 Louisville
13 Purdue
14 Notre Dame
15 Creighton
16 BYU
17 Missouri
18 Georgia Tech
19 Pittsburgh
20 Marquette
21 Hawai'i
22 UCLA
23 San Diego
24 Michigan
25 Western Kentucky
Wisconsin leads the preseason top 25

The Badgers start off the season as the No. 1 team in the country, and understandably so, because Wisconsin ended the 2019 season as the national runner-up. The Badgers lost in three sets to a completely dominant Stanford team in the national title game in 2019. That seems like forever ago, so here's a quick refresher. The Badgers started off the 2019 season with three early losses to Marquette, Baylor and Washington. But boy did they turn it around. They peaked in the second half of the season and ultimately won the Big Ten volleyball championship. Then, they cruised through the NCAA tournament, avenged their loss to Baylor in the semi-finals, and got their chance in the title game. 

The kicker though, is that they have almost their entire starting core returning for this season.

The Badgers return first-team All-American Dana Rettke and outside hitter Molly Haggerty, both of which made the NCAA all-tournament team in 2019. They also return Grace Loberg, All-American setter Sydney Hilley and Danielle Hart, who was a huge contributor in the 2019 tournament. 

MORE: Ultimate Badgers dream player, built by coach Kelly Sheffield

The rest of the top 10

Texas is No. 2 with 17 first-place votes. The Longhorns were knocked out of the 2019 NCAA tournament by Louisville in what was probably the biggest upset of the tournament. The Longhorns and the rest of the Big-12 conference already played in the fall, and they finished their fall schedule unbeaten. That includes two wins over Baylor, who made it to the national semifinals last season. The Longhorns lost Micaya White, but some familiar names have stepped up big: Logan Eggleston, Skylar Fields, Asjia O'Neal and Brionne Butler. That is a dangerous group of players. 

The Cardinals take the third spot despite losing a legendary senior class from last season that won three national titles in their four years at Stanford. Losing Kathryn Plummer, Jenna Gray, Audriana Fitzmorris and Morgan Hentz makes a pretty big difference. But the Cardinal still have strong players returning and always put together a competitive group. 

Kentucky and Nebraska close out the top five, with the Wildcats having played with the SEC in the fall. They finished 8-0. The Huskers didn't lose a single player to graduation this year.

Baylor, Minnesota, Washington, Penn State and Utah close out the top 10, with Baylor the only one having played in the fall. The Bears dropped three matches in the fall. Minnesota takes the seventh spot in the preseason poll. The Gophers made it to the national semifinals last season and return many of their stars, including Stephanie Samedy and Regan Pittman. 

How the teams that played in the fall ranked in the preseason spring poll

Out of the top 10 teams, three of them played in the fall: Texas, Kentucky and Baylor. Florida ranks No. 11 in the spring poll. This is interesting, because the Gators are ranked above Notre Dame, Louisville and Georgia Tech, who ranked above them in the final rankings for the "fall" volleyball season. 

Louisville comes in right behind the Gators at No. 12 after finishing play in the fall with a 5-2 record, and Notre Dame ranks No. 14. 

Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh also ranked in the Spring preseason AVCA top 25 at No. 18 and 19.

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