The AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) has released its pre-season poll, and the first matches of the season are scheduled. It’s time once again for Women’s NCAA Division I Volleyball!
This weekend will feature a lot of non-conference matchups, with teams traveling across the country to break in new lineups and feel out their freshmen recruits. The AVCA poll doesn’t contain many surprises, but it’s the results that will determine who’s really number one this year. Will the Nittany Lions make four in a row, or will Nebraska, Texas, Stanford, Hawaii or another member of the pre-season top 10 break the streak?
Unsurprisingly, Penn State tops the coaches’ poll, despite the loss of 2009 AVCA Division I National Player of the Year outside hitter Megan Hodge and three-time AVCA All-American setter Alisha Glass (both are now playing for the US National Team). Nonetheless the Nittany Lions bring back 11 letter winners from their unbeaten 2009 squad, and will look to extend their unprecedented 102-match winning streak.
Penn State starts their season today with a match in the Carolina Classic.
Although they lost in 2009 in the regional final, Nebraska is a major contender in 2010. They return five starters, and they add to that impressive roster Laura Cook, who earned 2009 AVCA Division I National Freshman of the Year honors with UCLA and has transferred to Nebraska.
The Huskers kick off their 2010 run with a match against No. 14 Kentucky at the Runza/AVCA Showcase in Omaha.
The big news for the Longhorns is the loss of Destinee Hooker, the 2009 Big 12 Player of the Year and a huge force in the NCAA title match against Penn State. But Texas returns four starters and nine letter winners, including Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year Juliann Faucette. As a Texas native I’ll admit it was nice to see some amazing volleyball coming out of the Lone Star State; hopefully the Longhorns will keep the power coming.
Today marks the beginning of Texas’ season with a home match against TCU in the Burnt Orange Classic.
With the men’s team fresh off their amazing championship run, the women of Stanford look to mirror their success. They’re back with five of their starters and their libero as well as eight letter winners from their 2009 squad. With three senior all-Americans (OH Alix Klineman (4.25 kills per set), First-Team setter Cassidy Lichtman (22 double-doubles) and the Cardinal’s all-time digs leader Gabi Ailes), Stanford is a team to contend with.
The Cardinal meets Tulane today at the New Mexico Invitational.
After advancing to the 2009 Semifinals, the Rainbow Wahine are looking for an even better 2010. They return three starters, their libero and seven letter winners, making them a favorite to once again dominate the Western Athletic Conference.
They host the Chevron Rainbow Wahine Invitational this weekend and will first take on No. 22 San Diego.
Rounding out the top 10 are Illinois, Minnesota, Washington, Iowa State and Southern California. USC has the strongest recruiting class in the nation according to Prep Volleyball, so don’t count them out just because they’re not in the top five. The men’s season should tell us that preseason don’t mean a thing, and that all that matters is where you finish.
Keep your eyes on Volleyball-Life.com for weekly updates on the 2010 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Season!
Photo courtesy of Flickr.