By Lincoln Arneal
Nebraska begins the 2023 season as a Top Five team in the nation. Barely.
The Huskers were tied for fifth with Pittsburgh in the preseason AVCA coaches poll, which was released on Tuesday. NU finished the 2022 season ninth in the poll with a 26-6 record after losing in the regional semifinal to Oregon, which begins this season at No. 9.
Defending champion Texas earned 44 first-place votes and the top ranking. The Longhorns lost a sizable chunk of their starting lineup but returns outside hitter Madisen Skinner, middle blocker Asjia O’Neal and opposite Molly Phillips. They also added Jenna Wenaas, who transferred from Minnesota.
Wisconsin, which league coaches picked to win the Big Ten, earned seven first-place votes and checked in at No. 2. The Badgers were followed by Stanford, which topped 13 ballots, and Louisville.
The Big Ten featured six teams in the initial rankings, including No. 7 Minnesota, No. 8 Penn State, No. 14 Ohio State and No. 16 Purdue.
The Huskers’ nonconference slate includes matches against three rated teams: No. 18 Creighton on Sept. 6, at Stanford on Sept. 12 and No. 10 Kentucky on Sept. 17.
NU hosts the annual Red-White scrimmage on Saturday and starts the regular season against Utah State on Aug. 25.