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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | August 10, 2021

College volleyball rankings: Texas leads our preseason Power 10

College volleyball rankings: Preseason Power 10 for 2021

The 2021 DI women's volleyball season kicks off on Friday, Aug. 27.

That means volleyball seasons in one calendar year — it is really happening. The 2020-21 spring season wrapped up less than four months ago with Kentucky volleyball winning its first national championship. Normally we would have more time off to do nothing but miss volleyball and count down the days until the next season ... but not this year. 

So, the time has come for the first preseason Power 10 rankings for the 2021 NCAA women's volleyball season: 

1. Texas

Texas Volleyball 2021

The Longhorns are the clear No. 1 team for me. I believe this is the most athletic, well-rounded team that is absolutely loaded with firepower. Logan Eggleston put on a show last season, leading the team with 4.63 kills per set and returns this year as a senior to lead this team back to the finals. Texas head coach Jerritt Elliott noted at the spring championship that Eggleston is just a special athlete, and that she is. She is joined this year again by Skylar Fields, Brionne Butler and Asjia O'Neal — all star-studded athletes. Fields was only a sophomore last season and stepped up big in the tournament; I expect her to only go up from there. This group is capable of making it to the title match and they will be looking to close the deal this time around. They are my clear No. 1 team. 

2. Wisconsin

Wisconsin Volleyball 2021

The Badgers take the No. 2 spot in my Power 10 rankings with the return of Dana Rettke. They do lose Molly Haggerty but this team has been knocking on the door for a title at the final site for the past two seasons. Most of their core returns with Rettke, Grace Loberg, Sydney Hilley, Lauren Barnes and Devyn Robinson. What strikes me the most about this team is their experience. They have gotten far for two years in a row with this group, but haven't been able to win the whole thing. We learn the most from failures though, right? I think this group can make it to the final site again. 

3. Washington

Washington Volleyball 2021

The Huskies come into my preseason Power 10 as the No. 3 team in the country with Ella May Powell returning to the lead the offense. Samantha Drechsel and Claire Hoffman will also be back. This team had a pretty loud appearance in the 2020-21 spring season tournament. The comeback kids had multiple come-from-behind victories  over Louisville and Pitt — and they took a set from Kentucky in the semifinals. That same team will be back to pick up where they left off. 

VOLLEYBALL: When does the 2021 season start?

4. Florida

Florida volleyball

Florida takes the No. 4 spot, and I think this team will be a force to be reckoned with this year. Washington got the edge at No. 3 because of how far the Huskies made it last season, but the Gators have a really promising group for 2021. The team returns Thayer Hall, T’Ara Ceaser, Lauren Forte and their libero, Elli McKissock. We didn’t get to see them out of conference in the spring season, but they did play Kentucky twice and the Gators split the series with the eventual champs. And in the postseason, this team looked powerful, taking down a strong Ohio State team and pushing Wisconsin to five in a nail-biter. I expect them to be really strong, and they’ve got Stanford, Minnesota and Baylor on the schedule before they hit conference play.  

5. Nebraska

Nebraska Volleyball 2021

The Huskers are bringing in one of the top incoming classes in the nation, including the No. 1 recruit, Lindsay Krause. On top of that, they are returning Lauren Stivrins, Lexi Sun, Madi Kubik and Nicklin Hames. So what was an incredibly strong team in the spring could be an even stronger one now. It was unfortunate that they had to face Texas in the third round of the tournament last year to end their season, but I expect them to be a national power this season. 

6. Kentucky

Kentucky VB 2021

The reigning champs come in as No. 6 in my preseason Power 10. If you’re wondering why the big drop for a team that looked completely unbeatable in the title match, well, they lost the AVCA National Player of the Year and MOP Madison Lilley, their star libero Gabby Curry and one of their star outside hitters, Avery Skinner. They still have Ali Stumler, Madi Skinner and a great coach who I know will put together another amazing season. But that's still a big loss in firepower from that title team — and thus the drop. 

7. Pittsburgh

Pitt VB

It wasn't too long ago, so you probably remember Pitt's huge tournament run from the spring all too well. The Panthers swept No. 10 Utah, took down No. 3 Minnesota in a huge upset, and then almost beat Washington before the Huskies had an insane comeback to advance to the semifinals. I am giving the Panthers the No. 7 spot with the return of Chinaza Ndee and Kayla Lund. PLUS the transfer of Serena Gray from Penn State will load this team up even more after a really strong spring NCAA tournament. 

8. Purdue

PurdueVB

Though a lot of teams struggled to prove themselves last season with conference-only schedules, Purdue thrived. They are in the Big Ten, which is of course an extremely talented conference for volleyball. The Boilermakers were proving themselves all season over top-ranked opponents. They pushed Minnesota to five sets twice, they beat Ohio State twice, Penn State once, and then beat a strong Oregon team in the NCAA tournament. This season, they return the whole lot with Grace Cleveland and Caitlyn Newton back.

PRESEASON POLLS: How the AVCA preseason poll predicts the rest of the season

9. Minnesota

Minnesota volleyball

The Gophers come in at No. 9 in my preseason Power 10 after their early exit in the spring NCAA tournament and a loss of some key players. Minnesota always puts together a strong group, but they do lose Regan Pittman and Adanna Rollins. Pittman had been a big time player for them over the past few years. Stephanie Samedy and Taylor Landfair will be back and better than ever at the pins, but I am super excited to see how the Gophers fill in the gaps. 

10. Baylor

Baylor Volleyball

Surprise! Baylor makes the jump into my Power 10 in the preseason. After making it to the top four in 2019 they fell off a bit in 2020. Yossiana Pressley was still very much so present, but she didn't have many supporting characters. Well, this season they gain Avery Skinner from Kentucky with her national championship experience and a pretty good incoming class as well. So the Bears make the preseason cut.  

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