LINCOLN — Nebraska sits atop the coaches poll, which was released Monday, for the first time since the end of the 2017 season.
Just don’t expect the players or coaches to care too much about the honor.
The Huskers (7-0) took over the No. 1 ranking from Stanford, which fell to No. 2 and comes to Lincoln on Wednesday for a rematch of the 2018 national championship.
“Obviously, we have a big game on Wednesday and we are more focused on that than the rankings,” junior outside hitter Lexi Sun said. “(We are) just keeping our priorities straight and not reading too much into it.”
The Huskers are the first team to be ranked No. 1 for 100 weeks in the 38-year history of the poll. NU hasn’t been ranked in the top spot in the regular season since November 2016.
Nebraska, which had been No. 2 behind Stanford in the three previous iterations of the poll, received 37 first-place votes and 1,550 total points. Stanford amassed 1,538 points and was still atop 23 ballots after suffering its first setback of the year in a four-set loss to No. 7 Minnesota.
No. 3 Texas received two first-place votes, while No. 6 Pittsburgh and Minnesota each received one. Besides the Huskers and Gophers, four other Big Ten teams were ranked in this week’s poll: No. 4 Penn State, No. 9 Wisconsin, No. 19 Illinois and No. 21 Purdue.
This week’s match will be the fifth time in program history NU has played in a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup; it has gone 2-2 in those matches. The only one of those played in Lincoln happened in 1995 when No. 1 Stanford beat No. 2 Nebraska in four sets.
The match will be televised on Big Ten Network and is being promoted as a blackout by the NU volleyball student supporter group. However, sophomore setter Nicklin Hames said the Huskers can’t let the hype get to them and they need to focus and limit distractions, which includes the No. 1 ranking.
“I feel it is one of those outside factors that we can’t let weigh in on us,” Hames said. “It’s going to be great being No. 1, but it doesn’t matter because anyone can lose. ... You have to keep winning to stay No. 1.”
The Cardinal (5-1) come into the match with an impressive résumé as they have already defeated Texas, Penn State and No. 11 Florida in the first few weeks of the season.
While NU has topped No. 15 Creighton as well as San Diego, which was ranked at the time of the match, coach John Cook said Nebraska still has a lot to prove.
“We haven’t proven anything yet,” Cook said. “We’ve proven we’ve taken care of business. ... We’ve beaten some very good teams, but now we get the chance to play a top-10 team and we’ll get the chance to play a lot more as we go down the Big Ten.”