Opening week is here. In what is certainly a different year, we have two NCAA women's volleyball seasons within four months of each other — and the new season starts this weekend.
There will be a ton of ranked games and amazing matchups week after week, but we will continue to break down the top three or so that you will not want to miss. This week was tough, but there are a few in particular that you should be amped about. Let's break it down as we all anticipate the fun. Rankings are from the AVCA.
Here are the top three matchups you wont want to miss in the opening weekend:
No. 7 Minnesota vs. No. 10 Baylor (at Wisconsin) | Friday, Aug. 27 | 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU
Final: 3-1 Baylor
Baylor absolutely loaded up its out-of-conference schedule to start the season, and Minnesota is only the beginning. This match will be a big debut for both teams. For one, we will see the combination of Yossiana Pressley and Avery Skinner for the first time — how exciting is that? Pressley was the 2019 National Player of the Year, and rightfully so, as Baylor burst onto the scene and reached the semifinals, but the Bears fell out of the top 10 last season. Now Skinner joins the group leaving us excited for what this time might look like. Skinner played a large part in Kentucky's 2020-21 national championship season. For Minnesota, we will see how the Gophers filled in the spots previously occupied by Regan Pittman and Adanna Rollins. Stephanie Samedy is back for her fifth year after a phenomenal spring season, and Taylor Landfair, last season’s freshman phenom, is back as well. Samedy made my list for the top 16 offensive players returning for 2021. She finished last season as an AVCA first team All-American and was the Big Ten Player of the Year. Last season she was the first Gopher since 2011 to post 20 kills and 20 digs in a match and had 20-plus kills in FIVE matches. This matchup will be quite the way to kick off the season.
2021 VOLLEYBALL: Here are the top 7 storylines for this season
No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Baylor | Saturday, Aug. 28 | 7 p.m. ET on BTN
I told you Baylor’s schedule is loaded. These two teams met in the 2019 semifinals, with the Badgers advancing to the national title match. Now we have an early season meeting with a few different components on each team. If you need another reason to watch this one, how about the thought of Pressley going up against Dana Rettke again at the net? The Badgers lost Molly Haggerty, but you can expect the return of Rettke, Sydney Hilley, Grace Loberg and Devyn Robinson. A crew we are all too familiar with seeing at the national semifinals now.
VOLLEYBALL RANKINGS: AVCA top 25 breakdown
No. 4 Washington at No. 11 Ohio State | Saturday, Aug. 28 | 7 p.m. ET
Just another phenomenal match in the opening weekend and a Pac-12 vs. Big Ten matchup. Ohio State emerged last season as a strong team in the Big Ten with the dominance of freshman Emily Londot. This season, the Buckeyes will be looking to continue that success. Playing big teams like Washington is just what they need to do. Washington made it to the national semifinals before falling to eventual champs, Kentucky. Ella May Powell returns along with Samantha Drechsel and Claire Hoffman. This should be the toughest out-of-conference matchup on the Huskies' schedule, so you won't want to miss it.