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College: Pre-Season Rankings Top 50 Countdown (Part 2)

Florida didn’t quite crack the Top 10, checking in at No. 11 in our Pre-Season Rankings. (Courtesy Beth Hall, Florida Athletics)

What do the PVB Pre-Season Rankings represent?

At best, a perfect reflection of how the teams will ultimately stack up.

At worst, a total blunder before the first ball has even been served.

More probable is somewhere in the middle, as are the chances nobody remembering either way when the season’s over in December.

The type of information we tend to retain is more like who won it all.

In that sense, all that matters then is which program are we going to anoint No. 1 to begin 2017?

That answer comes Wednesday.

As it stands, we released teams ranked Nos. 31-50 on Monday. That is followed by Nos. 11-30 below, and then the much-anticipated Top 10 on Wednesday.

Nos. 11-30

11. FloridaRhamat Alhassan returns for her final season in the middle and that’s one definite position of strength for the Gators. Setter Allie Monserez still has some young hitters around her, but all signs point toward the Gators being improved from a year ago.

12. Wisconsin – Part of what the Badgers accomplish this fall depends on the health of outside Molly Haggerty. Another factor is how quickly freshman setter Sydney Hilley can get up to speed. For now, Wisconsin starts in the Top 15.

13. Oregon – The Ducks have options, but only four seniors. If Oregon can overcome some of its youth, then watch out. Lindsey Vander Weide is back on the outside, and Ronika Stone could put up more impressive numbers than she did last season as a freshman.

14. Kentucky – On paper, the ‘Cats have depth. Kentucky returns a ton, plus added some talent. With outside Leah Edmond expected to be even better than her phenomenal freshman campaign, Kentucky has the potential to be something special in 2017.

15. Utah – The Utes, with outsides Adora Anae and Carly Trueman, could be Sweet 16 good this fall. That’s why Utah starts off at No. 15.

16. Michigan State – Setter Rachel Minarick, middle Alyssa Garvelink and outside Autumn Bailey should help keep the Spartans in the Top 20 for the second straight season.

17. Ohio State – Making up for the loss of Taylor Sandbothe and her 500 kills won’t be easy. Yet, the Buckeyes have lots of pieces back to build on. They include setter Taylor Hughes and outsides Audra Appold and Luisa Schirmer.

18. Michigan – Among the parts back is setter MacKenzie Welsh and middle Claire Kieffer-Wright, as well as libero Jenna Lerg.

19. BYU – One chore is replacing both starting middles. However, the BYU brings back kill leader and outside McKenna Miller, libero Mary Lake and setter Lyndie Haddock. That should help keep BYU among the nation’s best.

20. USC – Add the Trojans to the list of teams we are expecting to be better this fall. Khalia Lanier has a season under her belt, and the addition of Cindy Marina could help steady out the setting position. With some more consistency this season, USC should produce a few more victories.

21. Hawaii – The loss of Nikki Taylor will sting, but setter Norene Iosia and outside McKenna Granato are back and part of strong returning foundation that also includes middle Emily Maglio.

22. Purdue – Having setter Ashley Evans and pins Danielle Cuttino and Azariah Stahl means the Boilermakers have the potential to move up the rankings. For now, Purdue starts off at No. 22.

23. Arizona – There’s work to be done in Arizona with the loss of setter Penina Snuka and outside Kalei Mau, but kill leader Kendra Dahlke is back. She’ll be one of the main options again for the Wildcats, who will have a new look but should remain in the Top 25.

24. Illinois – With nine freshmen and four sophomores, Illinois is young. But motivated by missing the tournament last season and the excitement of a new coach, the Fighting Illini should be a Top-25 program this fall.

25. Washington State – Outsides McKenna Woodford and Taylor Mims are two key pieces back in the lineup for a Cougars squad that took a nice step forward last season and made the tournament. Therefore, Washington State gets the benefit of the doubt and opens this season at No. 25.

26. Florida State – Last year’s kill leader Milica Kubura is back, but overall the Seminoles have a young roster and will be sporting a new look. Florida State is a program that recruits fairly well, so while FSU is starting off lower than the past two seasons, the Seminoles can easily play their way into the Top 25 and better with their competitive schedule.

27. BaylorKatie Staiger had nearly 700 kills for a Baylor program that reached the second round in 2016. She’s joined by returners in outside Aniah Philo and middle Camryn Freiberg.

28. San Diego – At times last season, the Toreros were Top-10 material but ran out of steam some at the end of the year. There’s some changes this fall too, as middle Kaity Edwards and outside Lauren Fuller, who finished third and fourth in kills a year ago, are the top returners on the offensive side.

29. Missouri – Kill leader Melanie Crow and setter Courtney Eckenrode are two returning parts that will look to keep the Tigers in the Top 30 mix. Other pieces are back too, like middle Alyssa Munlyn and right side Kira Larson.

30. Iowa State – The Cyclones have ended the past two seasons around the Top 35, so they start in a similar position in 2017. One of the bright spots for Iowa State is the return of last season’s kill leader Jess Schaben, as well as block leader Grace Lazard.

Nos. 31-50 

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