It’s a new frontier in collegiate athletics — women’s volleyball most certainly included — where the explosion of the NCAA transfer portal has completed altered the playing field.

The transfer portal, which allows college athletes to transfer without sitting out for a specified period of time (now they can play immediately), also changes the look of VolleyballMag.com’s annual women’s NCAA recruiting class rankings.

Where before we accounted for grad transfers, incoming junior-college transfers, new international players (note on the list below are just two international players) and true freshmen, now we must add the experienced transfers.

This time around, it’s the Texas Longhorns taking the top spot, followed by USC and Nebraska. (Editor’s note: This story was written before Nebraska All-American middle Kayla Caffey announced that she will transfer to Texas).

The Big Ten has four schools in our top 10 and three more earned honorable-mention status, including defending champion Wisconsin checking in at No. 6.

As always, this long-running list is voted on by an elite panel of NCAA Division I coaches.

1. Texas

Incoming freshmen: Emma Halter, 5-5, libero, Roncalli (Indianapolis, Indiana), Team Indiana; Marianna Singletary, 6-4, MB, Porter-Gaud (Charleston, South Carolina), A5; Devin Kahahawai, 6-4, OH, Kamehameha Kapalama (Kailua, Hawaii), Spike & Serve; Makenna Miller, 6-0, OH, Northwest (Justin, Texas), Texas Pistols; Marina Crownover, 5-10, S, St. Stephen’s Episcopal (Austin, Texas), Roots.

Transfers: Jenna Ewert, 5-10, S, RS Sr., Colorado, Bella Bergmark, 6-2, MB, RS Sr., Cal, Madisen Skinner, 6-2, OH, Jr., Kentucky, Zoe Fleck, 5-6, libero, RS Sr., UCLA, Keonilei Akana, 5-9, libero, Jr., Nebraska.

Madisen Skinner

Synopsis: Two notable components here for coach Jerritt Elliott’s squad. In flashing neon lights is the transfer of standout outside Madisen Skinner from Kentucky. Skinner, who was part of the 2020 Kentucky team that won the NCAA title, was a VolleyballMag.com honorable-mention All-American and led the Wildcats in kills per set (3.78 last year). “I am really excited to have Madi join this team and help us try to accomplish the ultimate goal,’ Elliott told the school’s athletic website. “She has the experience at the highest level and knows what it takes to win a national championship. Fleck is a two-time Pac-12 libero of the year and another VBM All-American. She started at UC Santa Barbara and then sparkled at UCLA. The Texas incoming freshmen class features 2022 VolleyballMag.com Fab 50 selections in Halter, Singletary and Kahahawai — so overall, plenty of more firepower incoming to Austin. Kahahawai is the No. 3-ranked recruit in the Class of 2022 on the VolleyballMag.com’s Girls Fab 50 list.

2. USC

Incoming freshmen: Jordan Wilson, 6-2, OH, Hamilton (Chandler, Arizona), AZ Storm; Megan Verbiest, 5-6, libero, Marymount (Los Angeles, California), Sunshine; Adonia Faumuina, 6-1, RS-S, Long Beach (California) Poly, Mizuno Long Beach;

Jordan Wilson

Madison Pietsch, 6-2, RS, Saint Francis (Mountain View, California), Rage Westside; Danielle Thomas-Nathan, 6-0, OH-DS, La Salle (Pasadena, California), Sunshine; Gala Trubint, 5-8, libero, Scripps Ranch (San Diego, California), Coast; Rylie McGinest, 6-1, MB, Long Beach (California) Poly; Mizuno Long Beach
Transfers: Skylar Fields, 6-2, RS, Sr., Texas; Kalayh Williams, 6-0, MB, Gr., Washington State; Lindsey Miller, 6-4, MB, Soph., Notre Dame; Kelli Barry, 5-6, libero, Gr., UCLA.
Synopsis: USC and Nebraska went back and forth during the voting process for this second spot, with the Women of Troy prevailing by the thinnest of margins. On incoming true Class of 2022ers alone, coach Brad Keller and his staff killed it with five Fab 50 picks in Wilson (nee Middleton), Verbiest, Faumuina, Trubint and McGinest. Wilson is the No. 2 recruit in the Class of 2022 (on VolleyballMag.com’s Fab 50 list). Add in Fields (via Texas), former Notre Dame middle Miller and a pair of grad transfers, and it’s even better. “We are extremely excited about this incoming group of student-athletes,” Keller said. “Our staff feels each player on this team is a vital piece to the core and foundation of what we are trying to build at USC. They are a talented group that is expected to compete at the highest level and help complement our veterans immediately. Our four transfers could form the nucleus of many teams in the country. We are fortunate they chose to come to USC and become a part of this program. They also fill specific areas of need that will shore up our depth and versatility. We are excited about this season and about the future of the program.”

3. Nebraska

Incoming freshmen: Bekka Allick, 6-3, MB, Waverly (Lincoln, Nebraska), VB Nebraska; Maisie Boesiger, 5-6, DS, Norris (Firth, Nebraska), Premier; Hayden Kubik, 6-2, OH, Valley (West Des Moines, Iowa), Club Ignit Select; Maggie Mendelson, 6-5, MB, Fremont (Ogden, Utah), Utah Hive

The Nebraska freshman class, from top to bottom, Maggie Mendelson, Bekka Allick, Hayden Kubik, Maisie Boesiger

Transfer: Kaitlyn Hord, 6-4, MB, Sr. Penn State
Synopsis: This one leans heavily toward the incoming true freshmen, where the Huskers have stockpiled three VolleyballMag.com Fab 50 selections in Allick, Mendelson and Kubik, younger sister of Nebraska All-American Madi Kubik. Mendelson is the No. 4-ranked recruit in the class (VolleyballMag.com Fab 50). The 6-4 Hord was a three-time all-Big Ten first-team selection in 2019, 2020 and 2021 and has three national All-American awards to her credit. “Our class of 2022 enrolled early, and they are a very tight-knit group,” Cook said. “They are great competitors and teammates. We are super-excited to add them to the Nebraska volleyball program.”

4. Florida

Incoming freshmen: Emily Canaan, 5-8, libero-DS, Allen (Texas), Dallas Skyline; Carly Hendrickson, 6-2, OH, Mt. Notre Dame (Cincinnati, Ohio), Elevation; Emerson Hoyle, 5-10, libero, T.C. Roberson (Asheville, North Carolina), Xcel Performance;

Alexis Stucky

Alexis Stucky, 6-2, S, Laramie (Wyoming), Northern Colorado VBC; Amaya Thomas, 6-3, MB, University (Orlando, Florida), OTVA
Transfers: AC Fitzpatrick, 5-11, OH, Jr., Penn State; Marina Markova, 6-5, OH, Sr., Syracuse; Rhett Robinson, 5-11, OH-RS, Grad., North Texas
Synopsis: “This class has shown so many signs of the future impact they will have on our program,” Florida coach Mary Wise said. “They are a group of highly talented, highly motivated players who have won championships in both high school and club. This group will be a big part of our success moving forward.” On the incoming freshmen front, Florida snagged four 2022 VolleyballMag.com Fab 50 selections in Canaan from the Dallas area, Hendrickson of Cincinnati, Stucky, a standout in high school in Wyoming and with NORCO at the club level, and Thomas of the Orlando area. Fitzpatrick, of Ocala, Florida, was the 2019 Miss Florida Volleyball and the 2020 Florida Gatorade state player of the year. Markova, a Russian, was an all-ACC first-team pick with Syracuse last year and finished 16th in the country in kills per set (4.51). Robinson was first-team all-Conference USA for North Texas a year ago.

Naya Gros transferred from Michigan State to Minnesota/MSU photo

5. Minnesota

Incoming freshmen: Carter Booth, 6-7, MB, Cherry Creek (Denver, Colorado), Colorado Jrs.; Julia Hanson, 6-1, OH, Prior Lake (Savage, Minnesota), Northern Lights; Mckenna Wucherer, 6-1, OH, Brookfield (Wisconsin Central), Milwaukee Sting
Transfers: Arica Davis, 5-11, MB, Soph., Ohio State, Naya Gros, 6-3, MB, RS Sr., Michigan State, Elise McGhie, 5-10, S, Jr., Kansas, Miranda Wucherer, 5-9, S, RS Sr., Northern Kentucky

Julia Hanson, left, and Arica Davis

New international player: Chloe Ng, 5-9, S, Fresh., York House (Vancouver, B.C.), Ducks VBC
Synopsis: Minnesota coach Hugh McCutcheon calls his incoming freshmen “an extremely talented recruiting class.” And no wonder. Wucherer is the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2022 as voted on by the VolleyballMag.com Fab 50 voting panel, while Hanson and the 6-7 Booth, from the Denver area, were both Fab 50 selections. Wucherer and Booth both have USA Volleyball international experience under their belts. Ng is the first international player in these first five entries. McCutcheon likes her setting IQ and notes she will add depth to the position. Davis is an intra-conference transfer from Ohio State, while Wucherer’s older sister, Miranda, and Gros are both red-shirt senior transfers and McGhie is a junior coming from the Kansas program.

6. Wisconsin

Incoming freshmen: Ella Wrobel, 6-4, OH, Plainfield (Illinois) North, Sports Performance; Gulce Guctekin, 5-5, libero, Fresh., Istanbul, Turkey
Transfers: Gabby McCaa, 6-3, MB, Sr., Boston College; Caroline Crawford, 6-3, MB, Jr., Kansas; Sarah Franklin 6-4, OH, RS Soph., Michigan State

Ella Wrobel

Synopsis: The defending NCAA champions added five players (and a sixth that has not been publicly released yet). Wrobel, the lone incoming true Class of 2022 freshman, is a 2022 VolleyballMag.com Fab 50 pick. Franklin led Michigan State in kills per set (third in the Big Ten) en route to all-Big Ten first-team honors. McCaa averaged nearly a block a set for BC last year, while Crawford was all-Big 12 first team in 2020 and second team in 2021 for Kansas. Guctekin was a five-year member of the Turkish junior national team and is considered the best libero in Europe for the class of 2022. She helped her team to a bronze medal at the 2022 U21 European championship and was named to the Dream Team. “This is a talented and driven group of players that I am excited to be a part of our program,” Badgers coach Kelly Sheffield said.

7. Penn State

Incoming freshmen: Gillian Grimes, 5-6, libero-DS, Nazareth Academy (LaGrange Park, Illinois), Adversity; Katie Hurta, 6-1, S-RS, Nazareth Academy (LaGrange Park, Illinois), Adversity; Alexa Markley, 6-2, OH-RS, McIntosh (Peachtree City, Georgia), A5; Mandi Morioka, 5-7, DS, South Torrance (California), Mizuno Long Beach

Taylor Trammell

Transfers: Seleisa Elisaia, 5-10, S, Sr., CSU Bakersfield; Taylor Trammell, 6-2, MB, Jr., Purdue; Zoe Weatherington, 6-2, OH-RS, Sr., Utah; Kashauna Williams, 6-0, OH, Grad., Long Beach State
Synopsis: Hurta and Markley are both 2022 VolleyballMag.com Fab 50 picks. Hurta and Grimes had success together last fall at the high school level, helping Nazareth Academy out of the Chicago suburbs win the Illinois Class 3A state title. Morioka comes from the well-regarded Mizuno Long Beach program. As far as transfers, Nittany Lions coach Katie Schumacher-Cawley added middle Trammell (Purdue), pins Weatherington (Utah) and Williams (Long Beach State), as well as setter Elisaia from CSU Bakersfield. “We are very excited about the women we added to our team,” said the first-year coach, who is replacing her former boss, the legendary Russ Rose. “We brought in a good mix of experienced transfers and talented freshmen. Each one of them will play a vital role in our success this season and beyond.”

8. Baylor

Incoming freshmen: Averi Carlson, 5-11, S, Lovejoy (Texas), Skyline Jrs.; Alexis Dacosta, 5-11, OH, Fulshear (Houston, Texas), Houston Skyline; Brianna Denney, 5-11, S, Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach, California), Coast; Sophia Keene, 6-2, OH, Concordia Lutheran (Tomball, Texas), Houston Skyline; Allie Sczech, 6-4, RS, George Ranch (Richmond, Texas), Houston Skyline
Transfers: Mallory Talbert, 6-3, MB, fifth-year Sr., Texas A&M
Synopsis: Baylor took some heavy graduation losses, but its incoming freshmen class has big-time chops on its own with Carlson, Dacosta and Sczech, VolleyballMag.com Fab 50 selections earlier this year. Carlson tied for the No. 5 ranking among VBM Fab 50 selections. Talbert led Texas A&M in total blocks (99) as a senior last year. “I’m exceptionally thrilled and excited about our 2022 class,” Bears coach Ryan McGuyre said. “Not only will these young student-athletes bless Baylor with incredible gifts and physical talent, they also bring an already strong friendship, bond and character that will shine brightly for years to come. They are a great fit for our volleyball family and I am confident their addition will multiply the joy. This class addresses every skill in our sport, great setting, serving, blocking, digging passing and attacking. These athletes are all competitive winners on the court and understand the value of servant leadership off the court.”

9. Pittsburgh

Incoming freshmen: Rachel Jepson, 6-4, MB, Olympus (Holladay, Utah), Club V; Dillyn Griffin, 5-8, libero, Santa Margarita (Rancho Santa Margarita, California), A4
Transfers: Courtney Buzzerio, 6-5, RS, Grad., Iowa; Cam Ennis, 6-0, OH, Grad., Kansas/Texas A&M; Julianna Dalton, 6-5, OH, Soph., Washington State

B1G volleyball Iowa Buzzerio 8/12/2021
Courtney Buzzerio/Iowa photo

Synopsis: Dalton is a 6-5 outside coming from Washington State and trained with Pitt this past spring. “Julianna is a big-time get,” Panthers coach Dan Fisher said. “She has played at a high level in club and college  and knows how to work hard. We know she brings a physical presence at the net, but is also committed to being an all-around player. We expect Julianna to have a big impact on our program.” Fisher calls Buzzerio a “proven point-scorer,” and someone who “fills an immediate need,” he said. “We expect her to have a big impact, bringing physicality, experience and leadership.” Ennis will help the Panthers on the left side. “Cam is a much-needed piece for us on the left side,” Fisher noted. Jepson, out of Utah, is a 2022 VolleyballMag.com Fab 50 selection. “Rachel possesses the rare combination of incredible talent and humility,” Fisher said. “We have extremely high expectations and know she can be an elite college volleyball middle blocker.” Griffin is a highly decorated back row player out of Foothill Ranch, California. “I believe this is our most physical and experienced recruiting class to date,” Fisher said. “We have three Power 5 transfers who will have an immediate impact. In addition, we have added two highly ranked freshmen who we expect to compete right away. With this talented group joining our returning players, we are confident in our chances to compete for an ACC championship.”

10. North Carolina

Incoming freshmen: Sadie Swift, 6-3, MB, Stephen. F Austin (Austin, Texas), Roots; Anita Babic, 6-0, S, Corona del Sol (Phoenix, Arizona), AZ Storm; Ava Swain, 6-1, OH, Berkeley Prep (Tampa, Florida), OTVA; Liv Mogridge, 6-4, MB, Steinbrenner (Lutz, Florida), OT Clearwater; Maddy May 5-10, libero-DS, DH Conley (Greenville, North Carolina), Triangle; Ella Bostic, 6-0, S, Carmel (Indiana), Munciana; Cadence Shea, 6-1, OH-RS, St. Joe’s (Westlake, Ohio); Academy VBC Cleveland
Transfers: Charley Niego, 6-0, OH, Graduate, Notre Dame
Synopsis: The Tar Heels loaded up seven incoming freshmen with strong prep and club pedigrees. Mogridge is a 2022 VolleyballMag.com Fab 50 selection. Niego, from the Chicago area originally, is a grad transfer from Notre Dame. “Our coaches have all worked hard to find the right players and athletes who will be a great addition to our team culture both on and off the court,” veteran Tar Heels coach Joe Sagula said. “These student-athletes will have our program competing at the top of the ACC and at the national level for years ahead. We have a great balance in all positions that can provide the depth from high-level setters and attackers along with outstanding ball control.”

Honorable Mention

BYU, Michigan State, Northwestern, UCLA, Texas A&M, North Carolina State, Purdue, Kentucky, Duke, Long Beach State

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