Nebraska Named No. 1 in Preseason Volleyball Poll

The University of Nebraska earned the favorite's role in the CSTV/AVCA Division I Coaches Preseason Top 25 Poll, the American Volleyball Coaches Association announced today.

The Huskers, who picked up 35 of 60 first-place votes, return six starters from last year's 30-2 squad that reached the NCAA Regional Finals. Nebraska ended the 2004 season as the No. 1 team in the final NCAA RPI and fifth in the national poll conducted by the AVCA. The Huskers return three AVCA All-Americans in senior middle blocker Melissa Elmer (first team), sophomore right side/opposite hitter Sarah Pavan (first team) and senior outside hitter/libero Jennifer Saleaumua (second team).

"It's good to be recognized by the coaches, but we are very aware that there are about 10 teams that could be ranked No. 1," Nebraska Coach John Cook said. "Based on the voting, this looks to be one of the most competitive years that I have seen. It's a good starting point, but our goal is to be No. 1 at the end of the year, and we have a lot of work to do to get to that point."

The Huskers will face one of the nation's toughest schedules, taking on as many as nine teams ranked in the preseason poll, including six of the top 12 teams. NU opponents ranked in the preseason poll include Hawaii (fourth, Penn State (fifth), Minnesota (sixth), Texas (11th), Ohio State (12th), Texas A&M (16th), Missouri (21st) and Pepperdine (25th). In addition, the Huskers could face Stanford at the AVCA/NACWAA College Volleyball showcase in Omaha on Aug. 26-27. In all, four of the top five teams in the preseason poll will be in Omaha to open the season later this month. Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster at (402) 422-1212.

"We'll know where we stack up in Omaha," Cook said. "It will be a good challenge to see where we rank among some of the best teams in the country."

Washington, a NCAA Division I Tournament semifinalist in 2004, garnered 15 first-place votes and is second in the preseason poll. The Huskies return five starters and their libero from last year's Pac-10 championship team. Junior setter Courtney Thompson and sophomore outside hitter Christal Morrison were 2004 first and second-team All-Americans, respectively. Senior libero Candace Lee was an AVCA All-America honorable-mention pick, while the Huskies also return 2003 AVCA All-America Second Team outside hitter Sanja Tomasevic for her final season.

Stanford, the defending NCAA Division I champion, is pegged in the third hole in the 2005 CSTV/AVCA Division I Preseason Top 25 Poll with eight first-place votes. After the loss of AVCA Division I Co-National Player of the Year Ogonna Nnamani to graduation, the Cardinal will rely on junior outside hitter Kristin Richards and sophomore setter Bryn Kehoe along with a talented incoming freshman class.

Hawaii and Penn State round out the top five with a first-place vote each. The Wahines finished last season 30-1 and return all six starters and their libero from 2004. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions advanced to the NCAA Tournament regional semifinals last season and have four starters and their libero back from 2004.

The Pac-10 and Big Ten each nabbed three spots in the top 10 of the preseason poll. Overall, the Pac-10 is represented by six teams in the top 19 spots, while all of the Big Ten's four representatives are in the top 12. The Big 12 has four teams among the top 25, while the West Coast Conference has three schools listed on the preseason top 25 list.

Long Beach State and Pepperdine move into the preseason poll at No. 24 and No. 25, respectively, after being outside the top 25 in the final 2004 ranking. Kansas State and Florida A&M, ranked 23rd and 25th in last season's final poll, failed to reach the top 25 in the 2005 preseason poll.

The AVCA/NACWAA College Volleyball Showcase opens the first week of the season on Aug. 26-27 with four of the top five preseason teams competing in Omaha, Neb. Penn State opens against Stanford, while Nebraska challenges Hawaii in semifinal action on Aug. 26. Consolation and championship matches take place on Aug. 27.

CSTV/AVCA Preseason Poll No. Team (First Place Votes) Points
2004 Record 04 Rank

1 Nebraska (35) 1,463 30-2 5
2 Washington (15) 1,424 28-3 3
3 Stanford (8) 1,333 30-6 1
4 Hawaii (1) 1,311 30-1 8
5 Penn State (1) 1,243 29-3 7
6 Minnesota 1,126 33-5 2
7 Southern California 1,075 23-6 4
8 Florida 997 28-5 15
9 Tennessee 985 32-3 10
10 Wisconsin 853 22-10 14
11 Texas 835 26-5 11
12 Ohio State 728 30-4 6
13 UCLA 696 20-11 9
14 Louisville 650 30-3 16
15 UC Santa Barbara 573 24-4 21
16 Texas A&M 518 19-9 20
17 Arizona 513 19-11 22
18 San Diego 481 24-5 12
19 California 479 17-12 18
20 Georgia Tech 304 27-7 17
21 Missouri 290 20-9 24
22 Colorado State 241 26-4 19
23 Saint Mary's (Calif.) 217 25-4 13
24 Long Beach State 201 24-7 NR
25 Pepperdine 177 10-15 NR

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