Wisconsin women, BYU men top AVCA preseason polls, NCAA news and notes

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NCAA volleyball AVCA polls 1/8/2021-Wisconsin volleyball-Badger volleyball-Dana Rettke-Sydney Hilley
Wisconsin's Dana Rettke and Sydney Hilley, celebrating a block at last year's NCAA Championship, lead the top-ranked Badgers into the spring 2021 season/Michael Gomez photography

The NCAA volleyball season is just around the corner.

Well, the NCAA women’s spring 2021 season is. 

We still don’t have dates for most of the NCAA men or anything for the NCAA beach regular season.

But we have polls.

So let’s start there.

AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 Women’s Preseason Poll — Five teams got first-place votes, but Wisconsin, which lost in last year’s NCAA final and returns almost its entire roster, is ranked No. 1 and got 40 of the 62 votes. 

Texas, which dominated the Big 12 fall season, is No. 2 and got 17 votes. Third-ranked Stanford, which won it all last year, got three votes, and No. 4 Kentucky and No. 5 Nebraska got one each.

The top 10 rounds out with No. 6 Baylor and No. 7 Minnesota (both of whom got to last year’s national semifinals), No. 8 Washington, No. 9 Penn State, and No. 10 Utah. 

Which means four of the top 10 are from the Big Ten, three from the Pac-12, two from Big 12, and one from the SEC. 

There are three other teams from non-Power 5 conferences, Creighton of the Big East at No. 15, league foe Marquette at No. 20, Hawai’i of the Big West at No. 21, and Western Kentucky of Conference USA at No. 25.

Hawai’i’s placing is interesting since the Big West is not playing volleyball this spring. And Western Kentucky, 32-2 last year, started 2019 unranked but stood No. 22 in the final poll of the season.

Click here for the complete AVCA Division I women’s poll.

Schedules — The first matches of the spring season begin January 22.

The ACC, Big 12, and SEC all played in the fall, but the ACC’s and SEC’s schedules were abbreviated at best. Of course, that leaves 29 other conferences, minus the Big West and Ivy, which are not participating this spring.

The Big Ten announced its schedule but only through the individual schools and has yet to actually post anything. All the schools will play 22 matches — 11 at home and 11 away — and most are on back-to-back days. Not everyone plays everyone.

But the first weekend includes Illinois at Iowa, Nebraska at Indiana, Maryland at Ohio State, Penn State at Michigan, Michigan State at Minnesota, Rutgers at Northwestern, Penn State at Michigan, and Purdue at Wisconsin.

We’ve got nothing from the ACC, Big 12, or Pac-12, but the SEC gets underway on January 29 (https://www.secsports.com/schedule/volleyball). 

One league that has its schedule set is the Missouri Valley Conference. Click here for the MVC schedule that starts January 22 with Northern Iowa at Drake and Missouri State home for Oral Roberts.

AVCA Division I-II Men’s Preseason Poll — All 14 voters picked BYU No. 1. Hawai’i, a strong favorite to win it all last season before everything shut down, is No. 2, followed by UC Santa Barbara, Long Beach State, and Lewis. Those five teams were in the same order in the final poll of 2020. There are five Big West teams in the top 15.

Click here for the complete AVCA men’s poll. 

MPSF Preseason Poll — Speaking of which, BYU is also atop the league coaches poll. But in this case, the Cougars got six of the seven first-place votes. The other went Pepperdine, ranked No. 7 and tied with UC San Diego in the AVCA poll. 

The seven-team MPSF includes UCLA at No. 3, followed by Grand Canyon, Concordia, Stanford, and USC.

Click here for the complete MPSF poll and story.

MIVA Poll — The aforementioned Lewis tops the league preseason poll after getting six of the eight first-place votes. Loyola is No. 2, and No. 3 Ball State got the other two first-place votes. The list rounds out with Purdue Fort Wayne, McKendree, Lindenwood, Ohio State, and Quincy. Click here for the poll and preseason all-MIVA team.

EIVA schedule — The league, which consists of Charleston, George Mason, Harvard, NJIT, Penn State, Princeton, Sacred Heart, and Saint Francis (Pennsylvania) starts February 5 with six back-to-back matches in the same place. The Ivy league has announced that it will not compete until March 1, and neither Princeton nor Harvard are currently scheduled in EIVA play. Click here for all the information.

NCAA Championships — COVID willing, the NCAA women are set for April 22-24 in Omaha, the site of last December’s original Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship. Unlike a normal year, when 64 teams compete in the fall, the NCAA is going to have a 48-team tournament. Texas has already won the Big 12’s , Texas State the Sun Belt’s, and the Ivy League and Big West won’t be participating. Click here for more.

The NCAA men are scheduled for May 6-8 at Ohio State’s St. John Arena. Most years, the NCAA doesn’t announce who is going where until the last minute. There are, in theory, five automatic bids, for the MPSF, Big West, MIVA, EIVA, and Conference Carolinas, with one at-large. Some years four teams play in on Tuesday. They might not.

There isn’t much, but click here for more.

The NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship, like the men canceled last spring, is set to be back on the Redneck Riviera in Gulf Shores, Alabama, May 7-9. That tournament brings in eight teams in a double-elimination format. Click here for more.

We have yet to see regular-season schedules and the AVCA beach poll will be out soon. When the season ended last year, LSU was No. 1, followed by UCLA and Florida State.

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