The latest AVCA Coaches poll was released Monday, and 1-1 Penn State slid one spot to No. 2, surpassed by Cal. Penn State still amassed 11 first-place votes and 1388 total points, but 3-0 Cal seized the spot with 31 first-place votes and 1422 total points.
The Nittany Lions should be happy with their new ranking, as an embarassing home loss to previously unranked Oregon (now No. 16) could have done more damage to their ranking, but apparently the coaches felt Penn State did enough in coming back from two sets down to win against then-No. 2 USC (now No. 3). The new ranking may take some of the pressure off of the Lions, who will no longer have to deal with being targeted as the undefeated No. 1 team in the country.
Six Big Ten teams can be found in the rest of the top 25, as the league looks to be competitive throughout this season.
Rankings of note:
No. 1 - Cal: An undefeated record was enough for the previously No. 3-ranked Golden Bears to jump USC and Penn State, with both teams absorbing a loss on the weekend.
No. 2 - Penn State: Staying above USC but abdicating the top spot means this ranking is about right for the Nittany Lions. Sliding below USC after beating them on Saturday would have been too harsh, but staying No. 1 was out of the question after a loss to Oregon.
No. 3 - USC: The Trojans started slow against Minnesota in Rec Hall on Friday, losing the first two sets, before they exerted the muscle against the Gophers. Minnesota looked good over the weekend, but USC's firepower — led by athletic outside hitter senior Alex Jupiter — was too much for the Big Ten squad. It was also too much for Penn State for two sets, before the Lions' comeback win. Still, losing in five sets to the then-No. 1 team in the country is no shame, and the Trojans will likely remain a major threat for the NCAA title.
No. 5 - Nebraska: One needs to look no further to find the second-highest
ranked Big Ten squad than the fifth spot in the rankings. Nebraska received one first place vote after starting 2-0. It's early, but Nebraska are looking like the biggest threat to Penn State's run at a ninth consecutive Big Ten title. The Nittany Lions' home match with the Cornhuskers October 29 should be interesting if both teams can stay highly ranked.
No. 7 - Illinois: The Illini started undefeated as well, with a 3-0 record. The Illini look strong as well, and may also be a contender for the Big Ten title if they can follow up on last season's success against Penn State when they took one of two matches from the Lions. The two teams meet October 8 in Happy Valley and again November 11 in Champaign, Ill.
No. 11 - Minnesota: Minnesota came out of the AVCA Showcase in State College at .500, with a dramatic fifth set loss to then-No. 2 USC and an equally dramatic fifth set win against Oregon. Minnesota, led by powerful middle hitter freshman Tori Dixon, the ever-present freshman threat Ashley Wittman and defensive star and libero juniorJessica Granquist, have the potential to be a major player on the Big Ten scene. Be sure to watch the Lions take on the Gophers October 1 in State College and November 1 in Minneapolis, Minn.
No. 13 - Purdue: Purdue have started 3-0 in a homestand, sweeping every set. The Boilermakers will need to prove they can get big wins against better opposition and away from home before they can be counted as a bona fide threat in the stacked Big Ten.
No. 22 - Ohio State: The Buckeyes are 4-0, sweeping every set in four matches at the West Virginia Mountaineer Invitational. It's a similar story to Purdue though, as Ohio State have yet to prove themselves against top opponents.
No. 24 - Michigan: The Wolverines are 3-0, having dropped one set in two
matches against Morehead State. See Purdue and Ohio State.
The rest of the top 25 can be found here: