College volleyball beat writer Jeff Huth weighs in on the Big Ten preseason poll:
The Big Ten coaches have spoken, and they clearly believe the Illini have much to overcome with the loss of two All-America outside hitters. In one sense, that's hard to argue. Colleen Ward and Michelle Bartsch turned in superlative performances for a 2011 UI team that finished one win short of an NCAA title. Beyond that, no position in the sport produces more points (or, by far, takes more swings) than outside hitter. That said, Illinois does return every other starter from a national runner-up team. There's major talent on the roster, though admittedly the talent at outside hitter is not yet college-tested or college-proven. Even with that caveat, however, fifth place is surprisingly low. Third was my expectation, but certainly no lower than fourth. Considering that Illinois was the third highest-ranked Big Ten team in the coaches' national poll, the gap in perception between AVCA Top 25 voters and Big Ten coaches is not small. We shall see who's right.