College Rankings

College: Pre-Season Top 50 Rankings

PVB completed its Top 50 countdown this week. See the complete list here.

Nebraska starts the season ranked No. 5 in both PVB’s Top 50 and the AVCA’s Top 25. (Courtesy Nebraska Athletics) completed its Top 50 Countdown this week.

You can find the complete rankings below.

Released on Wednesday was the AVCA’s Coaches Pre-Season Poll.

Despite receiving 10 less first-place votes, Texas (25) beat out Stanford (35) for No. 1. The Longhorns are also No. 1 in PVB’s Pre-Season Rankings, with Stanford No. 2 like the AVCA.

Overall, the rankings differed on two teams when it came to the Top 10.

PVB starts off with North Carolina at No. 3, while the AVCA has Washington at No. 3 and UNC at No. 11.

The AVCA has Wisconsin (No. 7) and BYU (No. 10) in the Top 10 instead of UNC, while PVB has UCLA at No. 10 instead of No. 13.

When it comes to the Top 25, there was only a difference of three teams.

The AVCA included Florida State (No. 15), Missouri (19) and San Diego (22). PVB ranked FSU at No. 26, San Diego at No. 28 and Missouri at No. 29.

Included in PVB’s Top 25 instead are USC (No. 20), Illinois (No. 24) and Washington State (No. 25).

Besides Texas at No. 1 and Stanford at No. 2, PVB and the AVCA have two more rankings in common – No. 5 Nebraska and No. 14 Kentucky.

Here is PVB’s complete Top 50 Rankings:

1. Texas – There are a bunch of talented teams and only one can walk away with the championship trophy. Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to the Longhorns, but they start 2017 with the most talented lineup in the country. One that features Ebony Nwanebu, Chiaka Ogbogu, Micaya White and Lexi Sun.

2. Stanford – Everyone knows about the changes that took place. Everyone also knows Stanford still has Kathryn Plummer, Jenna Gray, Audriana Fitzmorris and Morgan Hentz. And they have championship experience.

3. North Carolina – A young lineup more than flashed potential a season ago. With ballers like Taylor Leath and Julia Scoles back on the outside and a deep roster that includes Taylor Borup and Holly Carlton, the Tar Heels are set up for a monster year.

4. Penn State – A slow start in 2016 almost gave way to one of the biggest upsets, as the NIttany Lions nearly knocked off Nebraska in the Sweet 16. Much of that same lineup is back for Penn State, including stud outside Simone Lee and fiery middle Haleigh Washington.

5. Nebraska – It’s a changing of the guard as the Rolfzen twins are gone, but that doesn’t necessarily mean slippage. Nebraska recruits with the best of them, plus the Huskers still have outside Makaela Foecke and middle Bri Holman to build around.

6. Washington – There’s plenty of senior leadership on the Huskies with the likes of Courtney Schwan, Bailey Tanner, Crissy Jones and Tia Scambray. They’ll keep Washington among the country’s best.

7. Minnesota – We know if the Gophers are to make their third straight Final Four, it’ll come with a new starting lineup. However, one that will still feature setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson and middle Molly Lohman.

8. Creighton – Kill leaders Jaali Winters and Taryn Kloth are back. So is setter Lydia Dimke. That means Creighton has the ability to reach the Elite Eight again with the right breaks.

9. Kansas – With the senior duo of Kelsie Payne and Ainise Havili teaming with transfer Gabby Simpson, the Jayhawks are poised for another season full of victories.

10. UCLA – The outside tandem of Sarah Sponcil and Reily Buechler will aim to keep the Bruins among the nation’s most dangerous in 2017.

11. Florida – Rhamat 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 Baileyshould 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. Baylor – Katie 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.

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 McGeeHollann HansKaitlyn 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 Meyeris 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.


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