The AVCA released its preseason Coaches Poll on Monday and Nebraska came in at the top of the list.
The Huskers will head into the season as the top-ranked team in the country after returning seven players with significant playing experience from last year’s national runner-up and adding VolleyballMag.com‘s third-ranked recruiting class. Nebraska went 26-8 last season and finished second in the Big Ten before making a run to the national championship match.
Nebraska was last ranked No. 1 heading into the season in 2016. This marks the 101st version of the poll that featured Nebraska at No. 1, the most of any program, and the Huskers have appeared in all 572 polls including 516 in the top 10 (both tops in the country). Nebraska has now been a preseason top-five pick eight straight years.
Nebraska leads a group of seven Big Ten teams in the top 20 including four in the top seven.
Texas, featuring two former Huskers in Keonilei Akana and Kayla Caffey, came in at No. 2 overall but received more first-place votes than the Huskers (27 to 24). The Huskers topped the Longhorns by just 10 points (1537 to 1528).
Reigning champion Wisconsin is No. 3 and received 12 first-place votes after losing a large group of super seniors but supplementing a talented returning core with some key transfer additions. Louisville, led by former Husker Dani Busboom Kelly, comes in at No. 4 with one first-place vote. A transfer-laden Minnesota team rounds out the top five despite losing two-time Big Ten Player of the Year Stephanie Samedy.
Ohio State is No. 7 after returning almost everybody from a team that went 15-5 in league play last season. Purdue is No. 13, Illinois is No. 17 and Penn State, with Katie Schumacher-Cawley stepping in for legendary coach Russ Rose, is No. 20. Michigan is fourth among others receiver votes.
The preseason Big Ten coaches poll featured Wisconsin at the top and Nebraska in second. Minnesota and Ohio State lined up at Nos. 3 and 4, respectively, but the Big Ten poll differed from there with Penn State fifth and Illinois and Michigan tied for sixth, ahead of Purdue.
In addition to nine matches against preseason-ranked Big Ten teams, the Huskers will also face No. 11 Kentucky, No. 14 Stanford, No. 18 Creighton and Pepperdine (receiving votes, 31st) during nonconference play.
Jacob Padilla has been writing for Hail Varsity since 2015. He covers football, volleyball men’s basketball and prep sports. He also co-hosts the Nebraska Preps Postgame and Nebraska Shootaround podcasts for the Hurrdat Media and Hail Varsity podcast networks. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.