As the NCAA Volleyball season approaches, it’s time to review the AVCA Division I
Preseason Coaches’ Poll top 4. Released on August 15th, the poll is controversial in the volleyball world as many fans believe their team deserves a better ranking.
To kick things off, the Nebraska Cornhuskers were voted number one in the country. Nebraska
returned 5th year setter Nicklin Hames, the AVCA national freshman of the year libero Lexi Rodriguez,
and outside superstar Madi Kubik. Questions have been raised as to whether Nicklin will be setting this season or if it’s time for sophomore Kennedi Orr to step up. Along with this, debates have surfaced regarding two key former Cornhusker players, Keonilei Akana a vital piece of the defense and Kayla Caffey a blocking force. Both transferred to the rival Texas Longhorns. The Cornhuskers will have to work hard to fill these roles and prove they deserve this number one ranking. The Big 12 squad Keonilei and Kayla transferred to, the Texas Longhorns, are ranked number two. With their numerous high-level transfers this fall, all eyes fall on this stacked team to see if the Texan curse can be broken this year. Along with Akana and Caffey, the Longhorns claimed former UCLA libero Zoe Fleck, previous Kentucky outside Madisen Skinner, and Colorado setter Jenna Ewert. They also returned star outside Logan Eggleston, middle blocker Asjia O’neal, and opposite Molly Phillips. With these big-name players, only time will tell if Jerritt Elliott and the Loghorns can claim the coveted National Championship title this year.
The defending national champion Wisconsin Badgers came in ranked third. While still considered a top 3 team, Wisconsin graduated multiple essential players and some wonder how the young Badgers will cope without Grace Loberg, Sydney Hilley, Lauren Barnes, and phenom Dana Rettke. Besides these loses, the Badgers returned opposite Anna Smrek, Julia Orzel, and added Ella Wrobel, a top recruit, to their roster. The pressure will be on the defending national champions to see how quickly they can adapt with all the new additions to come
back out on top.
In fourth this year is the Louisville Cardinals who suffered heartbreak last year when their undefeated
team broke their 32-game winning streak in the semi-finals against Wisconsin. You can bet your bottom dollar these Cardinals are coming back this season with even more drive and focus than last year. Returning All-ACC outside Anna DeBeer, 5 th year outside Claire Chaussee, libero Elena Scott, and opposite Aiko Jones, the Cardinals should have a promising season ahead of them. However, loosing setter Tori Dilfer and middle blocker Anna Stevenson, raises questions of how the offense will be run and who will be stepping up for the setting role.
These top four teams promise some fiery competition and all eyes will be on the Cornhuskers, Longhorns, Badgers, and Cardinals to see who will come out on top when the time comes. Will Nicklin Hames be running the offense this year and if not, can the Cornhuskers make up for the deficit? Can the Longhorns finally bring home a national championship with their new additions? Will the defending national champions be able to restore their roster, or will the Badgers need a season to rebuild? How will the Cardinals step back on the court after their painful loss, and will they be seeking revenge? Only time will tell as the 2022 season kicks of.
Written By: Zoe LaBreche
Photo Creds: Lincoln Journal Star