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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | August 1, 2022

Nebraska leads 2022 DI women's volleyball preseason Power 10 rankings

College volleyball rankings: Preseason Power 10 for 2022

 

The 2022 DI women's volleyball season will kick off Friday, Aug. 26. That means I have my very first edition of Power 10 rankings for the season. I did compile a "way-too-early" Power 10, just a few days after Wisconsin won the 2021 national title. But that was called "way-too-early" for a reason, and it was also before we had a lot of information on rosters and transfers. We tracked the biggest impact transfers during the offseason here, and a lot of them had a huge impact on these rankings. 

Granted, these are still preseason rankings and there are so many factors come season that we have yet to find out. But, my guess is these will likely be pretty different than the AVCA preseason poll. So with that being said, here are my top 10 teams ahead of the 2022 DI women's volleyball season — and why. 

1. Nebraska

The Huskers start off the 2022 season as my clear No. 1 team in the nation. The Huskers pulled off an incredible season turnaround to make it to the national championship game and push Wisconsin to five sets, falling just short of the title. And they did it all with a young core including three impact freshmen. The Huskers lose the legendary Lauren Stivrins and another impact player in Kayla Caffey. Normally that would be a big loss, but All-American Kaitlyn Hord, one of the most sought after players in the transfer portals, decided to finish her career in Husker red. Hord will join a stacked lineup that includes the likes of Nicklin Hames, their experienced setter and quarterback, Madi Kubik, their leading scorer, the 2021 National Freshman of the Year in Lexi Rodriguez at libero, and two other standout freshmen from last year in Ally Batenhorst and Lindsay Krause. That is a loaded lineup comprised mostly of players who almost won a title as freshmen not too long ago. Plus, I can only imagine the talent of the incoming freshmen class, considering last year's. Clear No. 1 for me.

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2. Texas

The Longhorns come in as my No. 2 season, and the biggest reason for that is Logan Eggleston. Eggleston is clearly one of the best players in the nation and will take the court again with a star-studded team. Skylar Fields departed from the program, which typically would have been a pretty significant loss for the offense. But Madi Skinner transferred to Texas to play in her home state after two seasons and one national title with Kentucky. Skinner will likely be an immediate impact for this team, along with Zoe Fleck who transferred from UCLA and will likely be the Longhorn's starting libero. They will join players like Asjia O'Neal, Molly Phillips and Melanie Parra. This team was dangerous in all aspects of the game last season and have the makings to do so again this year. The only question mark will likely be who will step up to replace Jhenna Gabriel at setter. 

3. Louisville

The Cardinals start the season as my No. 3 team. Typically you would think a team that lost Tori Dilfer and Anna Stevenson would struggle more, but this team is stacked. They return Claire Chaussee, Anna DeBeer, Aiko Jones, Elena Scott and Amaya Tillman. These are all incredible volleyball players and some of the best in the nation. Plus, they have a fantastic coach in Dani Busboom-Kelly. This is a team that last year just barely lost to the eventual national champions in the semifinals, and will likely be a top-dog this season as well. 

4. Wisconsin

There they are — the reigning national champs. The Wisconsin Badgers come in at No. 4 in my preseason rankings, just outside of the top three because they lost a magnificent trio. I still think they are going to be a national championship contender this season, but could have some growing pains after losing the National Player of the Year Dana Rettke, Sydney Hilley and Lauren Barnes. Kelly Sheffield will try to fill those holes, though, with Kansas transfer Caroline Crawford, and likely Shanel Bramschreiber from Baylor at libero. They also picked up transfer Gabby McCaa from Boston College. They will join some already crazy good players — Danielle Hart, who was out last year due to injury, Anna Smrek, the MOP in the title game, Julia Orzol, Devyn Robinson, Jade Demps and Izzy Ashburn. 

5. Ohio State

The Buckeyes were swept by Georgia Tech to end their run in the tournament last season, but the Jackets lost a few really strong players, whereas the Buckeyes did not. Ohio State has been a strong team out of the Big Ten the past few seasons and they have done it with an incredibly young team. They return Emily Londot, Kylie Murr at libero, Mac Podraza at setter and more, so they are pretty high entering the 2022 season when a lot of other teams suffered significant losses of talent. 

6. UCLA

Before you spit out your water here, listen to this lineup. I have the Bruins all the way up at six heading into the season despite the loss of Mac May. May accounted for a lot of their scoring last season, but they brought in two huge transfers in in Lauren Forte from Florida and Matti McKissock from Georgia Tech on top of and already stacked lineup. They will join élan McCall, Iman Ndiaye and Charitie Luper, among others. 

7. Minnesota

The Gophers lost Stephanie Samedy, one of the best players in the nation. Without Samedy, seven feels like a good spot for the Gophers. Minnesota is a well-coached team and strong program historically, and they return a huge leader in CC McGraw at libero. On top of McGraw, they return Jenna Wenaas, Taylor Landfair and Melanie Shaffmaster, and they picked up Arica Davis from Ohio State out of the transfer portal. Davis was a strong player as just as a freshman and could likely be a big impact player for Minnesota. 

8. Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets come into the season at No. 8 in my preseason rankings, largely due to the fact that they return first-team All American Julia Bergmann. They did lose another first-team All American in Mariana Brambilla and Matti McKissock departed from the program. But Bianca Bertolino will need to step up big to fill in some offensive holes. 

9. Washington

The Washington Huskies start the season at No. 9 in my preseason Power 10. They lost a big piece of their offense in Samantha Drechsel, but return All-Americans Claire Hoffman, Marin Grote and Ella May Powell. Three huge pieces of their team, plus Madi Endsley offensively. The Huskies had a lot of ups and downs last season and would sometimes be inconsistent. But they make my top 10 with three leaders returning compared to other programs that lost significantly more. 

10. Kentucky

I struggled here between Pitt and Kentucky. Pitt brings back just one All American in Serena Gray after losing a talented group of seniors. Kentucky lost Alli Stumler and Madi Skinner, but they bring back two All Americans in Azhani Tealer and Emma Grome plus Penn State transfer Adanna Rollins. So I went with the Wildcats for the 10th and final spot. 

Purdue fell outside the top 10 with really big losses of Caitlyn Newton, Grace Cleveland, Hayley Bush, Taylor Trammell and Jena Otec. Same thing went for teams like Baylor, who lost Yossiana Pressley and crew, and BYU. But all and more of these teams could surprise us all this season.

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