The Stanford women's volleyball team opens the season ranked No. 3 nationally, according to the poll announced Monday by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
Stanford has appeared in the top 10 of every preseason poll since its inception in 1996.
The Cardinal, which received two first-place votes, returns all of its starters from last year's team that went 30-4, captured a Pac-12-best 15th conference title and advanced to the NCAA Berkeley Regional Final.
Stanford is one of two teams (with Penn State) to appear in all 32 NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournaments.
The Cardinal returns 11 letterwinners from the 2012 team, including middle blockers Carly Wopat and Inky Ajanaku, who were both All-Americans last season.
Also returning are sophomore outside hitters Jordan Burgess and Brittany Howard, who were selected to the Pac-12 All-Conference team, and senior outside hitter Rachel Williams, an All-American in 2011, and an All-Pac-12 honorable mention pick last year.
Defending national champion Texas earned the top spot in the poll with 55 first-place votes, followed by Penn State which garnered three first-place votes. Rounding out the top 5 were USC and Washington.
Overall, five Pac-12 teams are ranked in the top 15, including No. 8 Oregon and No. 12 UCLA. The Cardinal is scheduled to play 10 regular-season matches against top-25 teams, featuring non-conference matches at top-ranked Texas and against Florida (No. 9) in the Nike Volleyball Big Four Classic, Sept. 7-8 in Austin, Texas.
Stanford opens the 2013 season in Santa Barbara, Calif., as it takes on the UCSB Gauchos on Friday, Aug. 30 at noon.