Stanford, which won the 2016 NCAA title with four freshman starters and then advanced to the national semifinals last year, was voted No. 1 in the AVCA Division I Coaches preseason poll that was released Wednesday.
Stanford, with that core group of Kathryn Plummer, Audriana Fitzmorris, Jenna Gray and Morgan Hentz now juniors, got 40 of the 74 first-place votes. Second-place Nebraska, which won its second title in three years in 2017, got 20 first-place votes.
Texas, Minnesota and Kentucky, tying its highest preseason rank ever, round out the top five. Penn State is sixth and Florida, which lost in four sets to Nebraska in the NCAA championship match, is seventh and got one first-place vote.
BYU, Wisconsin and USC round out the top 10. Pittsburgh is No. 20, in the AVCA rankings for the first time since 1992.
“We’re ready to get the 2018 season under way and hope this creates some buzz for the program,” Pitt coach Dan Fisher said.
The Pac-12 has Stanford, USC, No. 11 UCLA, No. 15 Colorado, No. 17 Washington, No. 18 Oregon and No. 19 Utah.
The Big Ten contingent includes Nebraska, Minnesota, Penn State, Wisconsin, No. 12 Illinois, No. 22 Michigan State and No. 23 Purdue.
The Big 12 has Texas, No. 16 Baylor and No. 21 Iowa State. Pitt is the only ACC team on the list and Kentucky and Florida are the only SEC entries.
There are four teams besides the West Coast Conference’s BYU from non power-five conferences in the top 25, No. 13 Creighton of the Big East, No. 14 San Diego of the WCC, No. 24 Cal Poly of the Big West and No. 25 Colorado State of the Mountain West.
Click here for the AVCA preseason poll.