BYU-LMU Kennedy Eschenberg

BYU's Kennedy Eschenberg (left) takes a swing against Loyola Marymount defenders in a match at the Smith Fieldhouse on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2019.

Do you remember the BYU women’s volleyball team?

It’s been more than a year since the Cougars actually took the court for a match. Since that time, BYU and many NCAA programs decided to push the regular season to 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, the American Volleyball Coaches Association released the first spring poll and the Cougars check in at No. 16 with 602 points.

Wisconsin, which finished the 2019 season ranked No. 2 as the NCAA runner-up to Stanford, is the No. 1 team in the poll with 40 of the 62 first-place votes. Lone Peak’s Lauren Jardine – the Daily Herald Valley Player of the Year — joins the Badgers this winter as a true freshman. Wisconsin is followed by Texas, Stanford, Kentucky and Nebraska in the top five.

Utah, which surprised BYU in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2019, is ranked No. 10. San Diego, which won the regular-season title in the WCC, is ranked No. 23.

The Cougars (26-5) finished 2019 ranked No. 17 and are in a bit of rebuilding phase. They must replace the school’s all-time leader in digs (libero Mary Lake) and All-American outside hitter McKenna Miller. BYU does return sophomore setter Whitney Bower and senior middle blocker Kennedy Eschenberg.

The Cougars are scheduled to begin WCC play on January 26 and 27 with a pair of matches at Portland.

Follow Darnell Dickson on Twitter @darnellwrites or e-mail him at ddickson@heraldextra.com.

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