The Division I Women’s Volleyball Committee revealed its top 10 rankings on Sunday, Oct. 31. Louisville takes the No. 1 spot followed by Texas, Wisconsin and Pittsburgh.
The announcement provides the first look at teams that could potentially earn some of the top seeds for the 2021 Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship tournament and they are based on results through Wednesday, Oct. 27. Although it has no impact on the final bracket, it gives us all a glimpse of how the Committee is viewing all of the teams and what they value the most.
Here are the top 10 teams, as selected by the committee:
Louisville takes the No. 1 spot in the top 10 rankings. They got the nod over Texas, the current No. 1 team in the AVCA rankings. We sat down with Sherene Brantley, the DI women's volleyball committee chair, to break down the top 10. She said Louisville took the No. 1 spot because they have four top-10 wins over Pitt, Kentucky, Georgia Tech and Purdue, whereas Texas has no top-10 wins. She also said Louisville has been dominant, with 16 wins in three sets.
Texas has two top-10 matchups next week back-to-back against Baylor, and Louisville still has the tests of Pitt and Georgia Tech for the second time this season. Texas and Louisville are the last two remaining undefeated teams in the NCAA.
Pittsburgh, Wisconsin and Kentucky round out the top five in the committee's top 10 rankings, followed by Nebraska, Ohio State and Baylor. Brantley said one of the hardest decisions for the committee was five through 10, specifically No. 7 and 8, AKA Ohio State and Baylor. For those two teams, it came down to significant losses, and Brantley said they are really looking forward to seeing their tough matchups coming up, with Baylor against Texas and Ohio State against Minnesota, Nebraska and Penn State.
Georgia Tech and UCLA round out the top 10, two of the more surprising teams to make the top-10 reveal. Both teams are ranked outside of the top 10 in the AVCA top-25 poll.
Brantley explained that the Yellow Jackets have one top-10 win over Pitt, which is an impressive feat, and two top-25 wins as well as six top-50 wins. Their one significant loss is to Notre Dame, but the Fighting Irish have been playing really well. Georgia Tech scheduled tough non-conference games, and they have a high RPI, so that really helped their case right now.
For UCLA, Brantley noted that the Bruins are a strong team that has been under the radar. They've got a top-10 win against Georgia Tech, who is also in their top 10, and they have four top-25 wins and seven top-50 wins. One significant loss came against Arizona State, but Brantley noted the Sun Devils are 8-2 in the last 10 matches and are playing well. Another aspect that went into putting UCLA in the top 10 was that they are out-hitting, out-digging and out-blocking their opponents.
Some other teams in consideration and discussed by the committee, in no particular order, were Tennessee, Purdue, Washington and BYU. BYU was left out due to its strength of schedule, but I asked Brantley why Washington was left out considering they play a similar schedule to UCLA and have the head-to-head victory over the Bruins.
"Looking at the RPI where they stand right now and also strength of schedule ... that's where you play out where you choose UCLA over a Washington," Brantley said. "They do have the head-to-head against UCLA. However, four wins for UCLA versus three wins in the top 25 for Washington. And then again, we're looking at the schedule and that RPI that was significantly different."
The Huskies will have the chance to prove the committee wrong though, as these rankings were revealed right in the middle of their match against No. 10 UCLA.
This top 10 gives us a look at how the committee will view the teams this season, but there is still a lot of volleyball to be played before selections on Nov. 28.