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BYU women’s volleyball ranked 10th, football ranked 25th in preseason polls

By Darnell Dickson - | Aug 15, 2022

The BYU women's volleyball team celebrates a point in a match at San Diego on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021. (BYU Courtesy Photo)

The BYU women’s volleyball team is earning a ton of early respect from the sport’s coaches.

The Cougars came in at No. 10 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) preseason poll, which was released on Monday.

Nebraska earned the No. 1 spot in the AVCA poll, followed by Texas, defending NCAA champion Wisconsin, Louisville and Minnesota in the Top 5. Three of BYU’s 2022 opponents are in the Top 10, including Pittsburgh (6), Ohio State (7) and Georgia Tech (9).

BYU posted a 30-2 record in 2021, going a perfect 18-0 in conference en route to their second-straight West Coast Conference title and sixth in seven seasons under head coach Heather Olmstead. The Cougars advanced to the Sweet 16 before losing a heartbreaking five-setter to Purdue. Beginning last season at No. 15, BYU was ranked as high as No. 4 and finished the year at No. 9.

The Cougars lost a large portion of their production to graduation, including WCC Player of the Year Kenzie Koerber along with first team All-WCC selections Taylen Ballard-Nixon and Kennedy Eschenberg. In addition, starting libero Madi Allen opted to transfer to Washington.

BYU returns All-American setter Whitney Bower, as well as first team All-WCC middle blocker Heather Gneiting, outside hitter Erin Livingston (second team All-WCC) and opposite hitter Kate Grimmer (first team All-WCC in spring 2021).

BYU opens its season on August 26 in the Smith Fieldhouse, hosting Duke, Washington State and Rider in an invitational.

On the football side, after back-to-back seasons finishing ranked in the final polls, BYU came in at No. 25 in the preseason college football Associated Press Top 25 released Monday.

With the majority of starters returning, including quarterback Jaren Hall, a loaded offensive line and a healthy defense, BYU is equipped to make noise throughout the year in the polls thanks to a challenging schedule featuring four teams ranked in the preseason Top 25 with another two receiving votes.

A pair of teams had top-10 rankings, including Notre Dame (Oct. 8 in Las Vegas) at No. 5 and No. 10 Baylor (home opener, Sept. 10). Oregon (Sept. 17) checked in at No. 11 and Arkansas (Oct. 15) of the SEC at No. 19. Boise State (Nov. 5) received five votes and Utah State (Oct. 29) picked up two.

The program makes its first appearance in the preseason poll since 2009 when BYU was No. 20 in the preseason rankings. The Cougars finished the year at No. 12 with an 11-2 record. BYU went on a run of five consecutive preseason rankings from 1989 to 1993.

The Cougars have now been ranked in 12 preseason AP Top 25 polls, dating back to the program’s first preseason appearance in 1981 at No. 16, following a 1980 season when the team won the Holiday Bowl behind Jim McMahon’s last-minute heroics against SMU and finished ranked No. 12.

BYU made its first appearance in the AP poll at any time at No. 20 on Nov. 25, 1974.

The Cougars are among six Big 12 teams, including new 2023 entries, which found favor in the Top 25. No. 9 Oklahoma leads the way with No. 10 Baylor, the reigning Big 12 champ and No. 12 Oklahoma State as the league’s top three schools. Newcomers No. 23 Cincinnati, No. 24 Houston and No. 25 BYU round out the AP Top 25. Texas and Kansas State both were on the outside looking in receiving votes.

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