On Wednesday, the American Volleyball Coaches Association released their preseason top 25 poll. As expected, the Big Ten and Pac-12 dominate the poll. The Big Ten has eight teams, and the Pac-12 occupies six spots.
Also taking up a lot of space in the top 25: Teams that Marquette will play this season. The Golden Eagles have seven games against teams in the preseason poll and one against a team that is in the Receiving Votes department. Things start off wild and woolly for Marquette, as MU will see #20 (Hawaii), #13 (UCLA), and #22 (San Diego) in rapid succession in their first weekend of the 2017 season. The second weekend’s tournament bring Wichita State, who picked up enough votes for seven points, into the fray, while Kentucky and their #14 preseason ranking will be headed to Milwaukee and the McGuire Center on September 10th. Four days later, Marquette will road trip west on I-94 for an encounter with #7 Wisconsin.
That’s half of Marquette’s 12 match non-conference schedule right there. With head coach Ryan Theis needing to replace his leading attacker, his setter, and his libero for 2017, it will be a long strange trip for the Golden Eagles to merely get to 6-6 by the time Big East action starts on September 20th. Anything better than a .500 record will easily have Marquette on track for a seventh straight NCAA tournament appearance, and anything worse than .500 could definitely put that streak in danger.
Regardless of how the non-conference schedule goes, Marquette will need to rack up wins against their Big East rivals to lock up that NCAA tournament berth. Never has that more been the case since The Reformation than this season, as Creighton starts the year ranked #9 in the country. As always, MU will play the Bluejays twice, and unless Theis gets his newcomers pointed in the right direction quickly, those matches could be bloodbaths. That’s why it will be important for MU to snag as many wins as possible against the rest of the league.
Marquette’s first match of the season comes on August 25th, two weeks from this Friday, when they play the hosting (and ranked #20) Hawaii Rainbow Wahine in Honolulu with the start time set for just before midnight Central time.
Check out the full top 25 right here.