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Wisconsin volleyball is preseason No. 1

The Badgers are going to have a target on their backs all season as they look to get back to the national championship game.

2019 NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The Wisconsin Badgers volleyball will start the 2021 spring season as the No. 1 ranked team in the country according to the AVCA poll released on Tuesday. The Badgers, who finished as national runners up in the 2019 season, nor the Big Ten did not play in the fall due to COVID-19.

The Badgers have been ranked first only one other time in program history and that was on Oct. 9, 2016.

The first place votes were spread among five teams with the Badgers receiving 40, the Texas Longhorns notching 17, the defending national champion Stanford Cardinal having three and the Kentucky Wildcats and Nebraska Cornhuskers each earning one first place vote. Texas and Kentucky were both able to play this fall (2020) and finished first and second in the AVCA Poll at the end of that season.

The Big Ten Conference is predictably well represented and has six teams among the top 25. In addition to Wisconsin and Nebraska, Minnesota (27-6 in fall 2019) is ranked No. 7 while Penn State (27-6) comes in at No. 9. Purdue (24-8) is ranked No. 13 while Michigan (21-11) is ranked No. 24.

Wisconsin opens its 22-match Big Ten-only season on Jan. 22-23 when it hosts No. 13 Purdue in the UW Field House.