This is what it means to literally pick up where you left off: The defending national champion Penn State women’s volleyball team drew a No. 1 ranking in Monday’s American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason poll, topping six other ranked Big Ten programs.
The Nittany Lions, after a dominant 34-2 season last year, received 32 of the poll’s 60 first place votes. Texas, which handed Penn State one of its losses in 2013, earned the No. 2 ranking with 11 first place votes. Michigan State, the only other team to defeat the Nittany Lions last year, is ranked No. 16.
The women’s volleyball team won its sixth national title last season by defeating Wisconsin 3-1 in Seattle, running its steak of incredible dominance to five titles in the past seven seasons. Wisconsin, the only other Big Ten team to receive first place votes with eight, will begin the season ranked No. 6. Fellow Big Ten members Nebraska and Purdue followed the Badgers, at No.’s 6 and 7, respectively.
Russ Rose’s squad lost Deja McClendon and Ariel Scott to graduation and Prieto Cerame to transfer, but will boast four experienced seniors this coming season including ESPY nominee Micha Hancock. Aside from that, the Nittany Lions will feature a primarily young squad with eight freshmen.
Penn State opens its season August 29th, when it hosts TCU at 7:30. A week later, they will travel to Stanford to take on the No. 3 Cardinal.