Week 2 was a doozy in DI women's volleyball — the top dogs posted consistent performances, while some shifts have occurred in the final few Power 10 slots. Here is Michella Chester's take:
1. Wisconsin (Previous: 1)
After claiming the No. 1 slot in the AVCA rankings with their Big Ten/Big 12 Challenge wins over ranked Baylor and TCU in the opening week, the Badgers went 3-0 in their Week 2 matches. Arkansas presented a challenge on Wednesday, pushing the match to five sets, but Wisconsin put an end to the Razorbacks' foray with the help of right sider Devyn Robinson, who contributed 21 kills — tying her career high — on 48 swings. The Badgers returned to Barnhill Arena the next day and swept the Razorbacks.
It was an electric day at the Field House ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/HBhc4SD9Zp— Wisconsin Volleyball (@BadgerVB) September 3, 2023
Three days later, the Lady Vols contested Wisconsin's top ranking, stealing sets 3 and 4, but the Badgers rallied in the fifth and bemused Tennessee with out-of-system swings and defensive tactics that eventually notched the score in the Badgers' favor. So far, Wisconsin has outhit and out-blocked each of its opponents, averaging a .323 hitting percentage and 11.6 blocks per match.
2. Louisville (3)
The Cards still post an undefeated record, shutting out South Dakota, Northern Kentucky and Missouri this week, but remain unchallenged at-large. Louisville is averaging 12.7 assists and 2.4 aces per set and has outhit all of its opponents thus far, .322 to .140. Libero Elena Scott has already dug up 83 balls this year and Coastal Carolina transfer Brigitta Petrenko is making her mark at the net with 14 service aces in five matches.
Lousiville will see its first threat next week when it faces Penn State on Sunday, Sept. 10.
3. Florida (8)
Florida made program history with two top-5 sweeps in one week, defeating No. 2 Stanford and No. 5 Minnesota. The Gators barely cracked Chester's preseason Power 10 rankings, and earned a No. 8 slot after Week 1, but their Week 2 tear led them all the way to a No. 3 slot this week.
This team is strong in all facets. Setter Alexis Stucky spearheads the front line for the Gators with about 42 assists per match, and Week 1 AVCA DI Player of the Week Kennedy Martin is a weapon on the attack with 76 kills on the season. Elli McKissock has the back court covered, keeping the ball alive with 15 digs against Minnesota last week.
Florida will host its own invitational this week, taking on Sacramento State, Clemson and Winthrop in Gainesville before a Week 4 rivalry matchup against Florida State and a highly-anticipated face-off against Wisconsin.
4. Nebraska (4)
Nebraska has been the talk of the sport since it broke a world women's sports attendance record with 92,003 fans to Memorial Stadium to watch an all-Nebraska volleyball showcase. The Huskers have yet to drop a set in their five matches thus far, but their schedule has also yet to include a ranked challenger. Next week's slate features a top-20 team Creighton and Long Beach State — the same team that took down preseason No. 1 Texas in its season opener.
UF transfer Merritt Beason has pulled her weight for the Huskers offensively with 3.57 points per set and two-time All-Big Ten First Team selection Lexi Rodriguez has showed off her defensive expertise with 3.93 pickups per set.
5. Stanford (2)
The Cardinal saw both extreme highs and lows this week, and drop three spots. Stanford started the week with a loss to Florida in straight sets, but the Cardinal hit its stride against Texas in Austin, defeating the defending champs in straight sets in front of 4,700 fans.
Outside hitter Caitie Baird returning to Stanford's lineup had a lot to do with the win, as she hit an .458 on Sunday. The Cardinal hit a season-high .396 and had a season-best 13 blocks in Gregory Gymnasium.
6. Oregon (7)
The Ducks boast a 6-0 record and have only dropped one set this season. This week, they will participate in the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge, facing off against Minnesota and Ohio State, which will present some competition for Oregon's world-class offense, led by power hitters Mimi Colyer and Gabby Gonzales. Chester admitted that she could have justified ranking the Ducks higher at this point in the season, but a more transparent view of the strength of the Oregon squad will be revealed after this week.
7. BYU (9)
BYU's strength of schedule is the team's main drawback early this season, but the Cougars are 6-0, headlined by a victory over Pitt. BYU will be challenged this week, hosting a double-header on Sep. 7, against Towson and UC Irvine, before turning around to face Washington State the next day.
8. Pittsburgh (10)
Following an 0-1 start to the season, the Panthers have won four straight, including two over the ranked Kentucky. Freshman right side Olivia Babcock is a main threat on the Pitt roster, hitting .500 and .458 in her last two matches as well as tacking on eight combined block assists. Junior setter Rachel Fairbanks also claimed her first double-double of the season in the second Kentucky match, totaling 25 assists and 15 digs. This week, Pitt looks to two away matches against Marquette and Loyola Chicago.
9. Georgia Tech (N/R)
A third ACC team is welcomed to Chester's Power 10 this week, after the Yellow Jackets' two wins over Ohio State this week. On the Buckeyes' home turf, Georgia Tech cranked out 55 kills per match and increased their defensive intensity with 16 block assists and 77 total digs in their second meeting. The Yellow Jackets have bulldozed through a tough early-season road challenge unscathed, and thus are rewarded with the No. 9 spot.
10. Texas (5)
An even 2-2 record drops the 2022 national champions to the final slot in Chester's Power 10. Texas hadn't dropped two or more regular-season matches since 2019, before Sunday's loss to Stanford marked their second this year. However, this week also included a four-set win over Minnesota and the return of middle Asjia O'Neal, which shows promise offensively. The UT squad has some regrouping to do this week, and have only one match on their docket against Florida Gulf Coast.