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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | August 29, 2022

Texas takes over No. 1 spot in Week 1 Power 10 volleyball rankings

College volleyball rankings: Texas jumps Nebraska for top spot in Power 10

What a wild (interesting?) Week 1 in college volleyball. No better way to start the season than with a plethora of unexpected, or maybe expected, upsets. Baylor took down the reigning national champions, Wisconsin, in a five-set, point-for-point, thriller after losing the majority of its core from last season and star hitter, Yossiana Pressley. Texas took down Ohio State in two consecutive matchups. No. 12 UCLA was upset by Utah State, No. 11 Kentucky was defeated by Marquette, San Diego took down the No. 6 team, Pittsburgh, and more. 

So obviously, this stuff is ever-changing. With very little to go off on, we are going to compile our top 10 teams based on just last week along. Granted, it will probably be shaken up beyond belief in just a week's time. 

I am compiling these rankings mostly on ranked wins in the first week, the eye test and somewhat on previous rankings, although it is a little too early for that, Let's go!

1. Texas

The Longhorns move into the No. 1 spot in my first regular-season Power 10 rankings. I still think they are practically tied with Nebraska, but how can you not move them into the No. 1 spot after they took down a top-10 team in Ohio State TWICE in the opening weekend? The Longhorns showed just how dominant they can be this season in the very first two matchups of the year for them, and, they did it on the road. The talent on this team is pretty unreal. Logan Eggleston led the way, of course, with 33 kills in the two matchups and five service aces. Madi Skinner proved she will likely be another leading scorer for Texas and a big-time name this year. She was a huge factor, with 26 kills on .340 hitting over the weekend. Head coach Jerritt Elliott seemingly went with Asjia O'Neal and Molly Phillips for his middle blockers, and they both showed out. Saige Ka'aha'aina-Torres was impressive at setter, as was Zoe Fleck at libero. Basically, this team has no holes. And it was only the first weekend ... look out. 

2. Nebraska

As I mentioned above, if I could make this a tie for first, I likely would. The Huskers did nothing to move down a spot other than the fact that Texas played higher-ranked teams over the first weekend. Nebraska opened up the season with three consecutive sweeps. Madi Kubik, as expected, led the way in scoring with 36 kills over the weekend. Out of the multiple freshmen that arose last season, it was Whitney Launstein who impressed the most early in 2022. Launstein is right behind Kubik with 31 kills on an impressive .351 hitting. It was exciting to see Kaitlyn Hord suited up in Husker red, and she impressed right out of the gates. Hord leads the team with 18 blocks, so far. 

3. Louisville

The Louisville Cardinals remain my No. 3 team after the opening weekend. They too are 3-0 on the season now with three sweeps over Northern Kentucky, South Dakota and Missouri. This team looks incredibly balanced already, with Anna DeBeer leading the scoring effort but followed closely by Claire Chaussee, Aiko Jones and Amaya Tillman. Raquel Lazaro had the majority of time at setter over the weekend, though Elle Glock and Paige Morningstar got some time as well. 

4. Minnesota

Here is a big move for you. Minnesota is up as my No. 4 team over Wisconsin. The Gophers took down Baylor in the opening match of the season 3-1, and then swept TCU the following day. Taylor Landfair and Jenna Weenas look to be leading the way for the Gophers, and looked really impressive at the corners early in the season. We also saw the emergence of freshman Carter Booth, for the first time. Booth had seven kills and two blocks in the win over TCU and six kills with 11 blocks in her debut match. This ranking could possibly change very soon, considering the Gophers will face Texas in a mid-week matchup, then Florida on Sunday. But, I think they deserved the jump ahead of the big matchup for taking down a good team very early on. 

5. Wisconsin

I dropped the reigning champs down to No. 5 following the five-set loss to Baylor. But boy was it close. I had a very good feeling that this Badger team would have some growing pains early in the season. I mean, who wouldn't after losing Dana Rettke, Lauren Barnes and Sydney Hilley? But I still think they showed they have the talent to stay at the top this season. This is a very well-coached team with players that have experience on the biggest stage. And honestly, a loss like this will likely just help them get better and continue to grow their team. They didn't lose to a bad team by any means, and given the fact that they struggled to get into a rhythm, they were as close as they could've been to actually pulling out the win. Sarah Franklin emerged in a big way with 22 kills and two blocks in the five-set loss to Baylor and her first career double-double. Julia Orzol followed Franklin with 21 kills on the weekend and Devyn Robinson racked up 14. Anna Smrek currently leads the team in blocks. 

6. Georgia Tech

I have the Yellow Jackets up at six following the drop of Ohio State. The Yellow Jackets pulled off  two wins over Ole Miss and Illinois. These are two good teams, and Illinois was ranked No. 17 in the preseason AVCA poll. The biggest concern for the Jackets this year was how Julia Bergmann was going to do it alone. It is still hard to tell early on, but she did carry a very large load of the team's scoring in the opening weekend. By large load, I mean she racked up a career-high 33 kills in the very first matchup of the season. She surpassed 1200 career kills in the process, and put up more kills in one matchup than most players did in one weekend. Not to mention, she posted those 33 kills on .459 hitting. (😱) There was slightly more balance in the win over Illinois, when Bergmann posted 12 kills and 11 digs and senior middle blocker Erin Moss contributed 10 kills at a .533 clip. We will need to see more of that as the season goes on, but Bergmann's dominance is undeniable. The Jackets are up at No. 6 for now, and I am so excited to see them face some top teams in the Georgia Tech Classic in a few weeks. 

(Okay, FYI, 7-10 is where things get difficult)

7. Baylor

So... who to put at No. 7. Ohio State is 0-2 on the season, Kentucky lost to Marquette, UCLA was upset by Utah State, Washington split with Arkansas, etc. No one really made it easy on me this week. Baylor is 1-1, yes, but with a loss to Minnesota, a team in my top five now, and win over the reigning national champions, Wisconsin. Big-ranked wins are valued most, so they receive a huge boost here after Week 1. Of course, these rankings are very volatile. I expect change early and often. But splitting opening weekend with two top-10 teams deserves a spot in the top 10, for now. This is especially impressive for a team that lost most of its star-players, including one of the best players in the nation, Yossiana Pressley. Senior outside hitter Lauren Harrison led the weekend with 36 kills combined against the two Big Ten teams. Riley Simpson emerged as a redshirt freshman, with 25 kills on the weekend.

8. Purdue

Welcome, Purdue. No. 8 was another difficult spot, but I moved Purdue in after a solid 3-0 start to the volleyball season. The Boilermakers walked away from opening weekend with two sweeps and a four-set win over Tennessee. We better start getting used to some new names when it comes to Purdue. Eva Hudson, for one, is a freshman leading the team in scoring right now. She put up 18 kills over Bowling Green, 12 against Loyola Chicago and 17 over Tennessee. All of this with a .343 hitting percentage. That's 47 total kills already. Raven Colvin, we expected, is behind her with 26 on the weekend and Madeline Koch, a senior outside hitter, has 24. Grace Balensiefer, the transfer from Nothern Illinois, averaged 11.33 assists per set. It is promising to see these players emerge and fill some big holes from last season early on. 

9. San Diego

Now, here's a shocker... and I can guarantee you this will look fairly different in the AVCA poll. But I am going to give San Diego a shot here after its impressive opening weekend. The Toreros opened the season with a big 3-2 win over No. 6 Pittsburgh behind an incredible performance from Grace Frohling. Frohling posted 19 kills with three blocks and an ace, Breana Edwards (the graduate transfer from Indiana) posted 16 kills and redshirt senior Katie Lukes followed with 11. After the big win over Pitt, they followed that up with a sweep over an SEC school in Texas A&M and a perennial tournament team in Hawaii. I liked throwing San Diego in here with three good wins over strong teams, especially if I rewarded Baylor so much for taking down Wisconsin in five. Now, before we panic here, this ranking will be put to the test VERY soon. The Toreros are heading to Louisville to take on a top-five team in Louisville and Ohio State. So if they only stay here for one week, then no harm done. But why not put them in when they beat stronger teams than most other options and so many preseason-ranked teams lost early on? I am going with the Toreros here. 

10. Ohio State

Lastly, and for the highly anticipated 10th spot in my Power 10, I am sticking with Ohio State here. This was a tough decision, considering the Buckeyes are now 0-2 on the season with two losses to Texas. And, in the second matchup, although they won the first set ... they fell pretty badly in the next three sets. BUT, this is to the No. 1 team in the nation. Had Ohio State played anyone else, they would still be very much so in the higher portion of this ranking. I considered a Washington here, and Pittsburgh who is now 2-1 on the season. But I have got to stick with Ohio State for one more week before they play another slew of tough, ranked teams: San Diego, Louisville, BYU, Georgia Tech, Tennessee and Pittsburgh. (😅) That is one insane schedule for the Buckeyes. I give them credit for going for such a tough non-conference schedule, and I am going to keep them here. This team has a lot to work on, but they just might figure that out a lot earlier than most with this schedule. 

Other teams in consideration: Pittsburgh, Washington, BYU, Stanford, Florida

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