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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | October 4, 2021

College volleyball rankings: Penn State crashes this week's Power 10 after sixth-straight win

College volleyball rankings: Penn State enters Power 10 for the first time

This 2021 volleyball season has already been one for the books. Week after week, ranking my top 10 teams in the country gets harder and harder. I am solid on my top five teams, but for No. 6-10, there are multiple squads that could make the cut depending on how you choose to look at it. 

So for me, it changes a lot from week to week. After all, that is how rankings should be right? Based on games played every week. I base these heavily on the eye test since strength of schedule and games played vary from team to team.

Here are my Power 10 rankings after Week 6 of college volleyball:

1. Texas (1)

Texas Volleyball

There is not too much more to say that I don't say every Monday about the Texas Longhorns. After making it to the national championship last season and returning one of the most stacked lineups, I don't think there is any reason to move them at all since they remain undefeated. 

2. Louisville (2)

I also remain solid on my pick for the No. 2 team in the country. The Cards are now 14-0 and they just added another ranked win over No. 18 Georgia Tech to its resume. It's not like the Yellow Jackets are an easy team to beat either. A team like this can pull off upsets, big wins, and take sets from really good teams, but Louisville still managed to sweep. The second set was high scoring with so many ties until Cards finally won it 36-34, but the point is, they find a way to win — something that good teams find a way to do. In the win, they hit .322 for the match with five aces and 10 blocks. This is a team that has it all. 

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3. Pitt (3)

Pittsburgh stays put at No. 3 this week as they moved to 14-0 on the season. This is another team that shows promise from how far they made it last season in the NCAA tournament, and how successful they have been this year. Pitt comes in at No. 1 in the first RPI rankings for 2021 as well.  The Panthers just notched three consecutive sweeps, with the latest one over Duke. Kayla Lund had a match-best 14 kills on .440 hitting and right side Chinaza Ndee contributed 10 kills on .450 hitting.

4. Wisconsin (5)

Julia Orzol

If you want to know why Wisconsin moved up a spot, just look at the above photo of Julia Orzol for your answer. (Just kidding, but not really). The Badgers just pulled off a sweep over Minnesota. Now, the Gophers are a really good volleyball team with some of the best players in the country, so this wasn’t any old win. After posting 17 service errors in the Badgers' loss to Maryland, their service game was unstoppable against the Gophers, and Orzol had the game of her life. If she plays like that more often, with Dana Rettke posting her usual numbers, the Badgers would be pretty hard to beat.

Orzol led the offense with 17 kills and an ace, but she was all over the backcourt as well, making plays with Lauren Barnes and keeping balls alive. The Badgers had five service aces and were able to successfully get the Gophers off the net often. After a big loss and a tough week losing star middle blocker Danielle Hart to an ACL injury, the Badgers showed their resiliency. No wonder they have been at the national semifinals for the past two years. 

5. Purdue (4)

The Boilermakers drop to No. 5, just one spot, after dropping a five-set match to Illinois. The Illini are a great volleyball team so I don’t dislike this loss too badly. I’ve watched Purdue, they’ve got a lot of talent and are still 11-2 on the season with three ranked wins. They stay at No. 5 for me easily. 

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6. BYU (6)

I am not totally sold on BYU yet and I wish that my No. 6 team had a stronger schedule and more ranked wins. But, when you look at No. 6 through 10, it feels more subjective than anything else. The Cougars are 14-1 though, they are getting W’s, which a lot of teams are not, and have a ranked win over Utah. With the Cougars sweeping a Utah team that has been up and down all season, they stay at No. 6 for me. 

7. Kentucky (7)

Kentucky comes in at No. 7 in this week's Power 10. Pushing Louisville to five is still super impressive to me, and they’ve won three straight including a big win over Stanford. They were pushed to five by Ole Miss but the Rebels are also looking strong this year. So the Wildcats stay at No. 7.

8. Minnesota (8)

At No. 8 I am keeping Minnesota in my Power 10 despite the loss to Wisconsin. The Gophers have the most losses out of anyone in my Power 10 at 8-4, but you can’t deny that this is a top 10 team when you watch them. With one of the toughest schedules on this list, Minnesota should be prepared as the tournament is quickly approaching. 

9. Penn State (NR)

Penn State Volleyball

I've got a new team in my Power 10 this week. Penn State makes a grand entrance and here is why — The Nittany Lions are 11-3 but have just won six straight matches including a big one over Ohio State. Watching them play only gave me more reason to rank them, especially with the combination of Jonni Parker, Adanna Rollins, Kaitlin Hord, and now Allie Holland. When I compared them to all of the other teams in the running for these spots, their resume deserved it. They are in my Power 10 for now, but they have a big matchup against Nebraska coming up this week. 

10. Ohio State (NR)

The Buckeyes re-enter my Power 10 this week at No. 10 because Oregon and Baylor dropped out after losses. Ohio State is now 12-2 on the season with a loss to Purdue and Penn State and a big win over Washington. 

There were a lot of teams that were in consideration for the No. 6-10 spots, and I mean A LOT — Utah, Nebraska with Stivrins back, Oregon, Stanford, Baylor, Washington and UCLA even. They are all in the running and can make their way in on any given week. 

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