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College: Pre-Season Top 50 Rankings Countdown

Iowa is one of 50 programs that make up our Pre-Season National Rankings. (Courtesy Iowa 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.

For now, we release teams ranked Nos. 31-50. That is followed by Nos. 11-30 on Tuesday, and then the much-anticipated Top 10 on Wednesday.

Nos. 31-50

31. Iowa – The good news is, if the Hawkeyes can pick up where they left off in 2016, Iowa is sure to be an improved bunch this fall. Transfers Taylor Louis and Kelsey O’Neill should pay dividends. The bad news is, Iowa is still in the Big Ten and must face that daunting schedule that comes with it.

32. Colorado State – Last season didn’t go quite as planned for the Rams, which stumbled more than in recent years. Placing them at No. 32 might be a bit high, but with a challenging non-conference schedule we’ll find out soon enough. Last year’s kill leaders in Sanja Cizmic and Jasmine Hanna are back, along with setter Katie Oleksak.

33. Kansas State – A change at the setting position is one of the biggest moves for the Wildcats, as well as the loss of last year’s kill leader. It’ll take some adjusting for sure, but right side Bryna Vogel and outside Kylee Zumach are among those returning.

34. Colorado – A late transfer caused the Buffs to take on a different look then they were planning to. But, this is a program that should remain on the same relative competitive scale as recent seasons. Outside Alexa Smith is back, as is middle and block leader Naghede Abu.

35. Texas A&M – Making a setting change won’t be easy, but the Aggies do have building blocks. They include a large chunk of last year’s offense in Kiara McGee, Hollann Hans, Kaitlyn Blake and Ashlie Reasor.

36. Boise State – Reaching the second round of the tournament last season, it’s possible the Broncos could be even better in 2017. Much of the lineup is back and reason enough for Boise State to begin the year in the Top 40. Setter Jaymee-Lee Bulda teams once again with Sierra Nobley and Sabryn Roberts on the outside.

37. Western Kentucky – A first-round loss to Boise State should have the Hilltoppers motivated this fall. A unit that returns plenty, including setter Jessica Lucas and outside Alyssa Cavanaugh, Western Kentucky is looking like it has another Top-40 type season in it.

38. Wichita State – The Shockers have spent the past seasons hovering around the Top 40. Plenty of the same roster is in place, including three of last year’s top four kill leaders in Tabitha Brown, Mikaela Raudsepp and Abbie Lehman.

39. Dayton – The Flyers are another group that has proved itself to be a Top 50 program the past two years. The contributors that are returning, including outside Jessica Sloan and setter Jane Emmenecker, have earned the right to start off ranked this fall, but with seven Pre-Season Top 50 opponents on the non-conference schedule, we’ll find out plenty about Dayton before Atlantic 10 competition starts.

40. Marquette – The Golden Eagles are young – 12 freshmen and sophomores on the roster – and are taking on a new look this season. There could be some losing early on before Marquette finds an identity for itself.

41. Pitt – Returning the 1-2 punch of Stephanie Williams and Mariah Bell on the left side, the majority of Pitt’s offense comes with it. And with the tough non-conference schedule right out of the gate – Pitt plays Washington and Creighton – big tests arrive early.

42. TCU – It’s a younger roster then last season for the Horned Frogs. Even with the shuffling, TCU looks to have the potential to be as good or better than last fall. With a solid non-conference schedule and then Big 12 play after, the Frogs definitely have a chance to play themselves in or out of the rankings all season. There could be some lumps early though.

43. Missouri State – Racking up over 600 kills last fall, Lily Johnson is back to guide the offense for the Bears. Able to stay in the Top 50 the past two seasons, it should be a similar effort from Missouri State this year.

44. Coastal Carolina – The Chanticleers worked their way into the Top 50 last season. The return of kill leader Leah Hardeman is one reason why Coastal Carolina starts off the Pre-Season ranked in 2017. There’s no slouching on the non-conference schedule either, which includes TCU, Iowa, Duke, Ohio State, Notre Dame and North Carolina.

45. Maryland – There’s only two seniors on the roster, so youth reigns. And even though Maryland finished last season unranked, the Terps are on their way up. That’s why Gia Milana and company begin this season inside the Top 50. Now, it’s a matter of staying there.

46. Cal Poly – The Mustangs spent time last season in the Top 50 before falling out. The addition of Torrey Van Winden from UCLA is huge. Back alongside her sister, Adlee, the Van Winden sisters could carry Cal Poly much further this season.

47. SMU – The Mustangs weren’t ranked last season until defeating Texas A&M in the postseason. With kill leader Katie Hegarty back and leading the charge, SMU gets the benefit of the doubt this season and starts off in the Top 50.

48. Duke – The starting lineup is going to look different this season for the Blue Devils, but Leah Meyer is a constant in the middle and should be a steadying force. There’s plenty of shuffling in and out of the Top 50 with the lower-ranked clubs, but for now Duke gets the nod.

49. Notre Dame – The Fighting Irish were part of the Top 50 for a few weeks last fall. With another season under the guidance of Jim McLaughlin, and with kill leader Jemma Yeadon back, Notre Dame gets a chance to prove it is Top-50 worthy.

50. Cincinnati – The Bearcats, coming off last season’s tournament appearance, could be better in 2017. Tough-to-stop right side Jordan Thompson returns to power the offense.

Others

  • Arkansas State
  • Georgia Tech
  • Gonzaga
  • Indiana
  • Lipscomb
  • Long Beach State
  • Northern Iowa
  • Northern Illinois
  • Santa Clara
  • Xavier

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