One. Week. Left.
As Week 13 of women's volleyball approaches, here are Michella Chester's final Power 10 rankings of the 2023 regular season. The DI women's volleyball selection show will air this Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN.
1. Nebraska (1)
Perhaps the only easy pick on this list is Nebraska at No. 1. With a 27-match win streak, the Huskers clinched the outright Big Ten title and look to remain undefeated on the season with a rematch against Wisconsin on the road and then wrap up at Minnesota. On the season, the Huskers have tallied nine ranked wins, hitting an average of .286 while holding their opponents to a .131 clip.
The young core of this team continues to be one of the most prominent stories in the sport — the fantastic four first-year starters of Bergen Reilly, Andi Jackson, Harper Murray and Laney Choboy have made all the difference for the Huskers. Reilly has assisted 1,018 to collect five Big Ten weekly awards, Jackson and Murray have combined for 510 kills on the season, and Choboy's defensive specialty has racked up 153 digs to assist All-American libero Lexi Rodriguez. These players, alongside Florida transfer Merritt Beason — who's put up a team-high 357 kills — have made the Huskers an unstoppable force this year. We'll see how the final two games play out, but if the Huskers enter the tournament undefeated, there will be little that will stop their promenade to the national final.
2. Stanford (2)
The Cardinal have battled through some tightly-contested matches during the bottom half of their slate, not earning a sweep since the final week of October. Nevertheless, Stanford has come out on top in its last six contests, most notably over top-10 teams Oregon and Washington State, and snagged its second-straight Pac-12 title. Navigating quite possibly the hardest schedule in the league, Stanford continues to put up stellar numbers, ranking first in the nation in hitting percentage (.312), second in assists per set (13.63) and fifth in kills per set (15.56). Its offensive firepower comes from the arms of five hitters who've killed in the triple digits — Kendall Kipp (393), Elia Rubin (333), Caitie Baird (278), Sami Francis (173) and McKenna Vicini (129) — and backed by one of the best setters in the nation, Kami Miner. They'll host Utah and rematch Cal to finish up the season before tournament play; shutting down this stacked offense will be a tall task to any of Stanford's future challengers.
3. Wisconsin (3)
What a week for the Badgers. It's a tough decision, but Wisconsin is kept at the No. 3 spot because its resume remains a head and shoulders above the rest of the teams on here. Two consecutive losses to Penn State and Purdue have halted Wisconsin's momentum — the Badgers were 23-1 beforehand — but both defeats were without middle Anna Smrek. The Badgers picked themselves up with a sweep over Indiana and have a rematch against Nebraska this week as their final test of the regular season.
4. Pitt (6)
Pitt, Oregon and Louisville are pretty interchangeable in these next three slots, but Pitt gets the slight edge with its recent wins over Georgia Tech and Louisville. The Panthers rank second in the nation in blocks/set with 2.97 with MB Emma Monks registering 16 BS and 114 BAs this season. With two more conference games on the docket, Pitt looks to tackle Miami (Fla.) and Syracuse for a chance to overtake the wide-open ACC for a conference bid to the tournament.
5. Oregon (5)
A formidable Pac-12 competitor, Oregon's 24-5 record has only been blemished by ranked opponents. The Ducks have fluttered around the top-5 for the majority of the polls and finished right behind Stanford in the Pac-12 final rankings. Middle Karson Bacon had a day in the Ducks' most recent contest against Arizona, killing 11 on 12 swings with 0 errors — her .917 clip tied Oregon's single-match record. Across the board, Mimi Colyer is a double threat on the front line and service line, tallying team-highs in kills, 375, and service aces, 39. Southern Cal and Oregon State still await the Ducks, but a deep post-season run looks like it's in the cards for Oregon.
6. Louisville (4)
Two hitting errors in the fifth set against Pitt, and the Cardinals lose the reigns of the ACC stands while trading spots with the Panthers in this week's rankings. Though Louisville out-hit Pitt .315-.265, the Panthers avoided a sweep in the third, 26-24, and fought from behind to pull a reverse sweep over their conference rivals. Despite this match, Louisville is still a strong top-10 squad, equipped with libero Elena Scott — who's posted team-highs in aces (28) and digs (428) and star hitter Anna DeBeer. One more chance to redeem themselves against Georgia Tech remains for the Cards, who will likely be frontrunner for an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.
7. Texas (7)
With three wins since the unexpected Kansas State loss, the reigning champs remain at No. 7 and are granted an automatic bid to the tournament by winning the Big 12. The Longhorns' 2.9 blocks per set is their headliner stat, and they have boasted a top-5 defense all season. The question remains — is Texas still capable of making a deep postseason run?
8. Kentucky (10)
Kentucky currently tops the SEC and has been trending up ever since it shut out Tennessee on Oct. 15. Since then, the Wildcats haven't dropped a game, and will be challenged by Arkansas and Florida before an SEC victor will be crowned.
9. Tennessee (NR)
Sweet Sweep Sixteen 😁 pic.twitter.com/x62q2kTUxk— Tennessee Volleyball (@Vol_VBall) November 19, 2023
Tennessee has a seven-match win streak itself, and looks ahead to Mississippi State and South Carolina to cap off its season. The Lady Vols are led by utility hitter Morgahn Fingall, who has a team-high 367 kills and ranks second on the team with 66 total blocks. For a team that's been in and out of the Power 10, Tennessee has posted a strong late-season performance to sneak in at No. 9.
10. Arkansas (NR)
The Razorbacks scraped through back-to-back five-setters this week to find their place in the final Power 10. On their senior day this past Sunday, the Razorbacks took down ranked Florida for the second time this season — marking the first time the program has achieved this feat. Grad student Jill Gillen killed a season-high 26 and dug up 11 for her 15th double-double of the season. This season has been a franchise one for Arkansas, as seven of its top-10 most-attended games have occurred in 2023. Arkansas and Tennessee replace Georgia Tech and Washington State, who have been performing shakily as of late.