Week 3 was a doozy in the college volleyball world, with top teams facing off each other to wrap up nonconference play. These top-tier matchups shook up Michella Chester’s Power 10 rankings for Week 4. Here's what you need to know.
1. Wisconsin (Previous: 1)
Down 0-2 in front of a sold-out Florida Gator crowd on Sunday, Wisconsin did what its undefeated 2023 squad does best: sticking it out until the very last rally. The Badgers were held to hitting just .000 and .175 in the first two frames by the third-ranked Gators, then gathered themselves to produce a comeback, smacking down 30 kills in the next two sets to force a fifth. Then, scrapping through seven ties and four lead changes in the final set, Wisconsin surged ahead of the Gators to nab a 15-13 advantage, channeling their ninth win of the season.
MATCH POINT BADGERS pic.twitter.com/GW3zCFDYgC— Wisconsin Volleyball (@BadgerVB) September 17, 2023
This match was the third time that Wisconsin has faced five sets this season, and the second time that the Badgers have rallied after dropping their first set. With their fifth win over a ranked opponent, Wisconsin looks ahead to Big Ten play.
2. Nebraska (4)
As the only other team left unscathed, Nebraska rises to the No. 2 slot ahead of Week 4. The biggest statement the Huskers have made all year was this week's 3-1 victory over No. 5 Stanford in Maples Pavilion, their first regular season road win over a top-5 team since 2017. Big Red stormed over the Cardinal with 11.5 blocks and 52 kills and held Stanford to .218, which was well under the Cardinal's .327 season average. Bekka Allick and Andi Jackson held up the middle with 20.5 points and 11 block assists collectively. Libero Lexi Rodriguez continues to put up numbers in the backcourt as she dug up 12 and assisted five against Stanford, then posting a season-high 18 digs in the following contest versus Kentucky. With two more dubs in Week 3, Big Red now exits its non-conference schedule undefeated for the first time since 2016.
3. Louisville (2)
Louisville knocked down in-state rival, Kentucky (3-0), before its nine-match win streak was broken by Stanford, who surged past the Cards in five sets on Sunday. The Cardinals were both out-blocked (6-10) and out-dug (61-70) in Sunday's match, the combination of which Louisville hasn't seen all season. In the first frame of the Sunday matchup, Louisville almost held AVCA All-American swinger Kendall Kipp to hitting in the negatives, and only allowed one kill between MBs Sami Francis and McKenna Vicini. After another near-flawless second set, the script was flipped for the Cardinals, who allowed Stanford to get them out of system enough to force a fifth set. In a 15-12 decision after a hard-fought contest, Louisville was left searching for answers at the Yum! Center. Fortunately, the Cardinals have plenty of time to regroup during ACC play, with its next ranked matchup coming in mid-October versus Pitt.
4. Florida (3)
Florida saw a LOT of volleyball this week... And I mean TEN sets in two matches. The Gators were on upset watch on Tuesday after unranked FSU stole the first set and pressured UF to a deciding fifth set. Back-to-back Sofia Victoria smackdowns gave the Gators a chance to breathe as they pulled away, 16-14.
Then the Gators clashed with top-ranked Wisconsin in front of a home record-breaking crowd of 10,323 fans in Gainesville. While being spotlighted on ESPN, the Gators were fired up from the first serve, taking the first set handily even while hitting .194. That momentum continued until Florida's AVCA All-American setter, Alexis Stucky, went down in the middle of the second set, clutching her right knee. With Stucky out and Kennedy Muff in, the Gators barely took the second set, but struggled through the next three and took their first loss of the season. Concerns about the Gators' capabilities without Stucky are yet to be answered as they take on Auburn and Georgia next week.
5. Stanford (5)
Stanford has played through the most difficult non-conference schedule in the country, facing five top-10 teams in its first nine matches. The Cardinal have been in the spotlight A LOT with little-to-no room for error. In the Cardinal's Week 3 must-win matches, they saw both extreme lows and highs. Big Red stormed into California and stole the first two sets on Tuesday, killing 26 of 48 to stupefy the Cardinal. Stanford garnered a comeback in the third but sputtered out in the fourth to drop the match, hitting a season-low .218 against Nebraska. Hungry for a win, Stanford entered the Louisville match much more balanced defensively, digging 70 (compared to the previous match's 30) and blocking 10. After Stanford fell 0-2 early, it rallied three sets for the win; Elia Rubin was a difference-maker on the attack, killing 16 and hitting .481, and Caitie Baird did the clean-up work in the fifth with five of the team's 12 kills.
6. Oregon (8)
The Ducks slide in at the No. 6 slot after persevering through two five-set duels in Pitt's Panther challenge, followed by a 3-0 shutout of Marquette on Sunday. Oregon aced seven times when going head-to-head with ranked Pitt — six of those served up by sophomore Mimi Colyer, marking her career high. Killing 184 and acing 19 in Oregon's 11 matches, Colyer livens the Duck offense. Posting a 10-1 record going into conference play, Oregon's bread and butter has been consistency, which looks to keep rolling against in-state foe Oregon State and then UCLA.
7. Washington State (NR)
A long-awaited new arrival to the 2023 Power 10, the Washington State Cougars have outdone themselves over the past couple of weeks, downing three ranked opponents in four sets apiece (BYU, Baylor and Texas). In those last three matches, the Cougs dug up an average of 59 balls and blocked in the double digits — capping off their tear with 16 blocks in a road win over the reigning national champions. Outside hitter Iman Isanovic is a force up high, tallying 49 kills in those matches, including her season-high 20 against BYU. WSU’s only loss this year came at the hand of Louisville early in the season, and with top-10 squads like Stanford and Oregon looming close on this team’s docket, Washington State will look to keep its nine-match victory streak going.
8. Pittsburgh (7)
Despite a hard-fought loss to Oregon this week, Pitt bounced back with shutouts against James Madison and High Point and retained a top-10 spot. Versus JMU, the Panthers erred just four times hitting to record an impressive .557 clip, not letting the Dukes sniff 20 points per set (25-14, 25-15, 25-18). The Panthers additionally have three ranked wins this season and have halted their opponents at .129 hitting.
9. BYU (9)
Upsetting top-five Pitt in their first regular season match, the Cougars were on a roll until Washington State sniped them, 1-3, in the Cougar Classic on Sep. 8. BYU visited Utah in Week 3 with a wounded record and used shutouts against Utah Valley and Utah State as a springboard back to production, in anticipation of facing their new Big 12 opponents in the coming weeks.
10. Georgia Tech (6)
The Yellow Jackets round out the final spot in the Week 4 rankings, falling down four after losing to unranked in-state rival, the Georgia Bulldogs, in the first match of the Georgia Tech Classic. But like all good hosts, GT had to let go of the minor setback, proceeding to shut out Drake and San Diego in straight sets in the final two matchups. There is promise behind the Ramblin' Wreck offense, as they lead their opponents in efficiency — 482 kills to opponents' 350, and totaling a .359 assist rate.