Balancing potential vs. current performance led to another wide vote variance, with head coach Jill Kramer's program being rated has high as sixth and as low as 12th in our evaluations. Bot viewpoints are valid; it just depends on where emphasis is put as to where the final vote tallies fall.
Volleyball garnered just one more point that men's swimming to edge it out for ninth place on the list with a final score of 7.5. That clearly has the chance to rise in succeeding years, as there is discernible momentum in the program.
Greg Hunter: (11th) A spot in the lower middle of this ranking order may not seem to be cause for celebration, but for WVU's women's volleyball program, this is a significant achievement because just a year or two ago, this team would have certainly been at the bottom of all 16 Mountaineer intercollegiate athletic programs. In her four seasons as West Virginia's head coach, Jill Kramer has faced an uphill climb, leading WVU to records of 15-15, 7-19 and 8-22 in her first three years. The Mountaineers were 0-16 in Big 12 in 2012, but last year they started to climb. WVU finished the season with a 20-13 record, which was its highest victory total in 23 years. WVU also moved up in the Big 12 standings, as it was 5-11 in league play, which was good enough for sixth place in the nine-team conference. In another sport dominated by Texas (the Longhorns are 120-8 in Big 12 action over the past seven season), getting to the top will be very difficult for the Mountaineers, who have to go a long ways to recruit the talent-rich West Coast. But increasing enthusiastic crowds at the WVU Coliseum could help the Mountaineers gain ground on programs like Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma, which usually fall in place right behind Texas. The biggest obstacle Kramer's program faces is travel. No West Virginia program knows the Big 12 travel nightmares better than the volleyball team. The Big 12 volleyball schedule is a complete home-and-home round robin, just like men's and women's basketball. But when the Mountaineer volleyball team flies out to Big 12 locales eight times during the regular season, unlike its basketball brethren, its not doing so in cushy charter comfort. It takes long, exhausting commercial flights, which add not only hours but sometimes days onto its road trips.
Matt Keller: (9th) Coach Jill Kramer's team is showing obvious, and vast, improvements. A 14-1 start last was balanced by a 5-11 Big 12 mark. While that was five more wins than it garnered in the league a year ago, it won just one set against the Top 25 teams it faced. The sixth place finish in the conference was also a breath of fresh air in escaping the cellar of the standings a season prior.
Michael Carvelli: (6th) Jill Kramer's program has come a long way from when it went through its first Big 12 season winless. The Mountaineers are bringing better players to Morgantown than the program has ever seen before and, more importantly, they are all buying into Kramer's mindset and the vision that she has for the program. While it still might take a few more years to get to where they can contend for conference titles in a very talented Big 12, things are definitely moving in the right direction for WVU. Her high energy and attitude has proven to work in getting the players to want to play, and it's a similar set of traits that Oliver Luck has used in the future when looking for head coaches to revitalize stagnant programs at West Virginia.
Kevin Kinder: (12th) The potential is there. The momentum is there. Will that translate into a move to at least the mid-pack of the Big 12? The twin challenges of recruiting and travel will be key to overcome, but so too will the competition gap. The Mountaineers blazed out to a 10-0 start a year ago, but many of those wins weren't over the queens of the collegiate volleyball world, so it's tough to evaluate on record alone. Still, the Mountaineers were 2-1 after its first three Big 12 encounters, including a road win. The climb from basement to its current position may be nothing compared to the next steps that the program must take, however. The Mountaineers won just 18 of 56 sets against Big 12 foes last year.
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