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Mechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s basketball and other college sports for espnW. Voipel began playing women’s basketball in 1984 and joined ESPN in 1996.
Desperate times call for innovation. That’s why Dana Rettke of Wisconsin used the roof of her house to practice volleyball solo during the spring and summer shutdowns.
I’m from Chicago, the gyms were closed, Rettke said. So I went out in the backyard, I threw the ball on the roof and hit the wall.
Of course, the roof can be off-limits in volleyball – that’s when you block the ball directly on the ground – and the 6-foot-2 central blocker, Rettke, has covered countless opponents as the team’s three-time champion.
Now she and the Badgers hope to make another run at the national championship. Last season they finished second to Stanford, and this season they started strong on Friday and are ranked No. 1 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association Spring Poll.
Our coverage of the NCAA volleyball season continues on Friday the 22nd. January, with the continuation of twinning on the SEC Network, ESPN+ and the ESPN application. Clock
Rettke and setter Sydney Hilley were in the stands in Pittsburgh last season, frustrated after the 3-0 final loss, but already full of beans for 2020 when both will return to the senior ranks. But because the Big Ten didn’t open the volleyball season until late January due to concerns about COWID-19, they had to wait a long time.
Actually, I have it under control, Mr. Rettke said. After the national championship match, our first match is in a year, a month and a day. None of us have ever spent that much time without volleyball. But there were also positive points to report: Many of us have engaged in personal reflection and growth. But at the same time, we all wanted to get back on the field. And after last season we felt we had something to prove.
As the sport’s dominant leagues, the Big Ten and the Pac-12, begin play on Friday, here’s a look at women’s volleyball 2020-21.
What is the season?
Some conferences played most of their games in the fall, some split them between the fall and spring, and some played them only in the spring. Here’s the bad luck for the Power 5 division:
VAC : The fall schedule called for eight conference games and the spring schedule called for 10 championship games beginning in March. Each weekend, three teams travel to the same location and play two games each. Teams may schedule out-of-conference games in February. Some of these out-of-conference games may actually be CCA opponents that are geographically close, but they will not count toward the conference rankings.
Big Ten: 22 conference games only, starting Friday. Teams will compete consecutively at the same location on Friday/Saturday.
The big 12: He only had a 16-game schedule for the fall conference. In the spring, teams will catch up on league games that carried over from the fall and will be able to schedule off-conference games.
Pac-12: 22 conference games only as of Friday. Teams compete on Friday/Sunday, with most teams playing at the same location. However, geographically close schools – Arizona and Arizona State, Cal and Stanford, UCLA and USC, and Oregon and Oregon State – will play a series of movies at home.
SECURITIES AND STOCK EXCHANGE COMMISSIONS : With only eight games in the fall, there will be 16 games in the spring, starting on the 29th. Early January. Teams compete against each other on consecutive days, usually on weekends, at the same location.
What does the NCAA Tournament look like?
It has not yet been decided where all the games will take place. But the Final Four will still be held in Omaha, Nebraska, where it was originally scheduled for December. The dates are now 22 to 24. April. The field was reduced from 64 to 48 teams. Of the conferences that normally have one of the 32 automatic offers, two are not this season: Big West, which includes former NCAA champions Hawaii and Long Beach State, and the Ivy League.
Suffice it to say that with leagues playing at different times and very few out-of-conference games, the selection committee will have its work cut out for it to build a smaller field in a year when RPI won’t provide as many clues.
It will be a challenge for the committee, said Wisconsin’s Kelly Sheffield coach. I think they will probably rely more on regional advisory committees (there are five, made up of coaches). The eye examination will be very important. If you don’t play against a lot of other schools in the league, you have to overcome that. This play would be pretty funny if it were on television.
Who are the top ten favourites?
Wisconsin enters the national major league in the spring, as previously mentioned, and last season Rettke and Hilley were part of the first AVCA All-American team.
We still don’t feel like we’ve done anything to deserve it, Hilley said of the investments. But it’s good to maintain a high standard and make sure that in practice we perform as well as the number 1 in the country.
The other Big Ten teams in the top 10 of the spring poll are Nebraska (No. 5), Minnesota (No. 7) and Penn State (No. 9). The Nittany Lions are seven-time national champions, while the Huskers have five NCAA titles. Nebraska’s goal is once again to reach the final square in the nearby city of Omaha. The Huskers had already won the championship three times (2006, 2008 and 2015) and had won it twice.
Who are the Pac-12 favorites?
Dani Drews and Utah have their eyes on the Pac-12 crown this season. Photo / Steve K. Wilson / University of Utah
The AVCA top 10 includes three Pac-12 teams: Number three Stanford, number eight Washington and number ten Utah.
But Stanford, which has won three of its last four NCAA titles and has nine total, is in limbo to start the season. The first four games have been cancelled. Due to COVID-19 rules in Santa Clara County, where the school is located, Cardinals cannot train or play in the Maples Pavilion gym. The Stanford men’s and women’s basketball teams have moved to Santa Cruz, Calif. But the volleyball team hasn’t gone inside yet, as practice takes place outside.
The Cardinals lost one of the best classes in volleyball history with last year’s seniors led by Final Four MVP Katherine Plummer. So Stanford has had to rebuild a bit more this season, although it’s a relative term compared to the most successful program in sports.
The league’s coaches disagreed with the VCAA investigation. They picked Utah, led by returning first-team All-American Danny Drews, to finish first, with Washington second and Stanford third. The Utes gave Stanford a scare in its only NCAA tournament appearance last season, defeating the Cardinal in five sets in the regional semifinals. The other five NCAA games at Stanford have been a sweep.
Last year, Washington was in the Elite Eight, where they lost to Baylor.
The word of the year is flexibility, Washington coach Keegan Cook said. We don’t get as confident in these Pac-12 games as we usually are about everything else – your decisions on lineups, the roles of each player. We have to learn right away.
Which teams were the best in the fall?
Last fall, VCAA research, on the 25th. In November, the CCA, Big 12, SEC and Sun Belt teams were undefeated, with Texas (14-0) and Kentucky (8-0) leading the way. Baylor, Notre Dame and Louisville followed.
The two-time national champion from Texas is a regular in the Final Four. And you can expect the same with the events of this season. The Longhorns will play two Big 12 games rescheduled for the spring, both against TCU, and they will also play a pair of off-conference games to try to stay in the NCAA tournament.
Baylor broke through last season and made his first appearance in the Final Four. The Bears are 13-3 in the league this fall, with five straight losses at Kansas and Texas (twice). Senior outdoor forward Yossian Pressley, nationally ranked last season, averaged 5.18 points per set, second in the Big 12, as did junior outdoor forward Logan Eggleston (5.52) at Texas.
Last season, Louisville caused a sensation by qualifying for the regional final after defeating Texas. Kentucky has reached Sweet 16.
Kentucky coach Craig Skinner said that with 24 SEC games spread out between the fall and spring, it would be like a baseball season in terms of length, so we had to find the best time to rest. So, basically, players start at 14. Until November 8. Janvier trained himself. We’re just trying to be in good physical and mental shape, but we’re happy to be able to play again now.