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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | August 16, 2021

College volleyball rankings: Texas is No. 1 in the 2021 preseason AVCA poll

College volleyball rankings: Preseason Power 10 for 2021

Texas took the No. 1 spot in the preseason AVCA top 25 rankings for the 2021 season. The Longhorns received 32 first-place votes after finishing as the runner-up in the 2020-21 spring season and returning almost all of their star players. 

The other three teams to make it to the national semifinals last season — No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 3 Kentucky, and No. 4 Washington — enter the poll behind the Longhorns. Nebraska rounds out the top five. 

RANKINGS: How the AVCA preseason poll predicts the rest of the season

Here is the complete AVCA preseason top 25: 

RANK

TEAM

POINTS

2020-21 record

PREVIOUS

1 Texas (32) 1561 27-2 2
2 Wisconsin (15) 1522 16-1 3
3 Kentucky (17) 1435 24-1 1
4 Washington 1355 20-4 4
5 Nebraska 1346 16-3 6
6 Florida 1275 21-4 4
7 Minnesota 1130 16-3 9
8 Purdue 1096 16-7 7
9 Pittsburgh 1085 18-5 8
10 Baylor 1000 20-7 13
11 Ohio State 981 16-4 10
12 Penn State 902 10-6 12
13 Louisville 806 11-3 11
14 Oregon 776 15-5 14
15 BYU 734 17-2 15
16 Western Kentucky 553 20-1 16
17 UCLA 496 15-6 19
18 Washington State 431 11-5 18
19 Utah 398 13-5 17
20 San Diego 319 13-5 21
21 Stanford 264 2-8 NR
22 Pepperdine 234 15-4 20
23 Rice 223 16-5 23
24 Georgia Tech 193 13-4 22
25 Notre Dame 157 13-4 24

AVCA rankings vs. NCAA.com Power 10 rankings

A week ago, we released our NCAA.com preseason Power 10 rankings. Our top 10 consists of the same teams as the AVCA preseason poll, just in a different order. The AVCA has the same top two teams, with Texas leading the rankings followed by Wisconsin. The Longhorns return Logan Eggleston, Skylar Fields, Jhenna Gabriel, Brionne Butler and Asjia O'Neal to their stacked and already successful lineup. Thus the No. 1 spot. The Badgers return Dana Retkke for her fifth season and Sydney Hilley after reaching the national semifinals the past two seasons. 

After the first two spots, the AVCA gave the reigning national champs the nod at No. 3, whereas our Power 10 lowered them to No. 6 following the loss of Madison Lilley, Avery Skinner and Gabby Curry. They do still return star outside hitter Alli Stumler and Madi Skinner. 

Washington comes in at No. 4 in the AVCA poll after making it to the national semifinals last season and returning Ella May Powell and Samantha Drechsel this year. This is only a one spot difference between the AVCA and Power 10. But then the AVCA has Nebraska at No. 5 and Florida at No. 6, whereas our Power 10 gave Florida the edge at No. 4 following a great season where the Gators split the series with Kentucky and pushed Wisconsin to five in the NCAA tournament. The Huskers return Lauren Stivrins, Lexi Sun and Nicklin Hames along with a really strong incoming class. 

The AVCA put Minnesota above Pittsburgh and Purdue in their preseason top 25. Our NCAA.com Power 10 has it at No. 9 just behind the Panthers and Boilermakers. The Gophers lost Regan Pittman and Adanna Rollins and fell to Pitt in the NCAA tournament in the spring.

Finally, both the AVCA preseason rankings and our Power 10 rankings round out the top 10 with the new addition of Baylor. The Bears have the 2019 NPOY Yossiana Pressley returning, and earned themselves a big boost in the rankings from the transfer of Avery Skinner.

The rest of the AVCA top 25

After the top 10 teams, Ohio State, Penn State, Louisville, Oregon, and BYU round out the top 15, and understandably so. Ohio State had a remarkable 2020-21 campaign where it emerged as a national power and force within the Big Ten. The Buckeyes return last year's National Freshman of the Year, Emily Londot. 

Penn State returns Jonni Parker and Kaitlyn Hord, and although the Nittany Lions lost Serena Gray, they gained Adanna Rollins from Minnesota. Louisville brings back its freshman phenom from last season, Anna DeBeer, along with Aiko Jones. Oregon had a strong 2020-21 spring season with Brooke Nuneviller as its standout player and BYU gets a boost from the transfer of Kenzie Koerber from Utah this season. 

Western Kentucky takes the No. 16 spot after a strong run in the 2020-21 postseason. UCLA, Washington State and Utah take Nos. 17, 18 and 19 in the AVCA rankings. 

Stanford re-enters the top 25

The Stanford Cardinal are back in the AVCA preseason top 25 rankings after falling out entirely last season. Before last season, the Cardinal won three of the previous four national championships, including back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019. This was all with a legendary class consisting of Kathryn Plummer, Jenna Gray, Morgan Hentz and more. After losing that senior class, head coach Kevin Hambly was tasked with rebuilding his team in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cardinal were faced with multiple cancellations and postponements as well as many games where multiple athletes were deemed ineligible. They decided not to forfeit the season, and ultimately went 2-8 on the year, falling out of the top 25 and missing the postseason for the first time after 39 consecutive appearances. That's a big difference for what is normally one of the biggest powerhouses in college volleyball. 

This year, the Cardinal re-enter the AVCA preseason rankings at No. 21 as the only not-ranked team from last season. They will be a big question mark as the season begins and we watch what developments they have been able to make in the offseason. 

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