The Stanford women's volleyball team begin the season ranked No. 11 by the American Volleyball Coaches Association, which announced its annual preseason poll Wednesday. The Cardinal has been ranked in every AVCA preseason poll since its inception in 1982.
Stanford, which received a first-place vote, returns three starters, plus its libero, from last year's team, which finished third in the Pac-12 and 23-7 overall.
The Cardinal returns 10 letterwinners to its roster from the 2015 team, including three-time All-American Inky Ajanaku, who returns after sitting out last year with an injury.
Hayley Hodson (AVCA National Freshman of the Year) and Merete Lutz (two-time All-American) also return, along with Kelsey Humphreys, Ivana Vanjak and Halland McKenna, all of whom received significant contributions.
In addition, Stanford's freshmen were ranked the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation by PrepVolleyball.com.
Defending national champion Nebraska, earned the top spot in the poll with 60 first-place votes. Sitting ahead of the Cardinal is No. 2 Texas, which secured the final three first-place votes, No. 3 Minnesota, No. 4 Wisconsin, No. 5 Kansas, No. 6 Hawaii, tied for No. 7 USC and Washington, No. 9 Penn State and No. 10 Florida.
Overall four Pac-12 teams are ranked in the top 15, including No. 12 UCLA, while Oregon, Arizona and Arizona State are receiving votes.
The Cardinal is scheduled to play 10 regular-season matches against top-25 teams. It's first five opponents are either ranked or receiving votes, including match-ups against No. 3 Minnesota (Aug. 28), No. 9 Penn State (Sept. 4), No. 14 Illinois (Sept. 3) and No. 20 Purdue (Sept. 10).
Stanford opens the 2016 season at home for the second straight year when it hosts San Diego, which is receiving votes, on Friday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal will also take on third-ranked Minnesota on Sunday, Aug. 28 at 1 p.m. on Pac-12 Network.