With its three top players - Kelly Hunter and twins Kadie and Amber Rolfzen - back from a bronze medal performance with the USA Junior Women's National Team, Papillion-LaVista South (Papillion, Neb.) remains atop the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Volleyball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard, and will likely remain there until it loses.
Though many teams from western states have yet to play, the Top 25 looks different than just a week ago as two teams - Avon (Ind.), and Berkeley Prep (Tampa, Fla.) - dropped out and so did Carroll (Southlake, Tex.). The Dragons, 9-2 on the season with both losses to No. 11 Lovejoy, are simply too good to stumble out of the Top 25 for very long.
Carmel (Ind.) went from unranked to No. 19 in improving to 9-0 with a sweep of Avon and a 4-0 walk-through in the always-tough Mishawka Invitational.
Mercy Academy (Louisville, Ken.) continues to dominate opponents and moved to No. 20 with a perfect 7-0 record. Mercy has two very challenging matches the next two times it takes the court: unbeaten Dupont Manual and No. 2 Assumption.
Another newcomer to the Top 25 is no stranger among the prep elites. St. James Academy (Lenexa, Kan.) was 47-1 in 2011 and ranked No. 5 at the end of the season. But losing six starters puts the Thunder in a "what-have-you-done-lately" position. Starting no seniors, St. James handled an impressive Gardner-Edgerton team to open its season.
St. James, by the way, has won 186 of its last 194 matches.MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Volleyball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard1. (Last week 1) Papillion-LaVista South (Papillion, Neb.), 0-0
Coming off back-to-back 41-0 seasons, the defending national champion Titans open their season Friday/Saturday at the 16-team East Bellevue (Neb.) Tournament with a goal of extending their 82-match winning streak.
2. (2) Assumption (Louisville, Ky.), 5-0
Unbeaten through five matches, the Rockets were tested by St. Henry in a 3-2 victory. Before meeting unbeaten Mercy on Sept. 4, the Rockets will play in the Indianapolis Invitational Friday/Saturday.3. (3) Chaparral (Parker, Colo.), 0-0
The Wolverines are working on a 53-match win streak and back-to-back state 5A titles. They will open the season by hosting No. 23 Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado Springs) on Thursday. Both teams were unbeaten in 2011.4. (4) Bishop Moore (Orlando, Fla.), 0-0
After going 29-2 in 2011, the Hornets open Wednesday at Lake Highland Prep (Orlando).5. (6) Palo Alto (Calif.), 0-0
The Vikings open their season Sept. 4 hosting Notre Dame (Belmont). Palo Alto has won the last two California Division I titles after a 36-3 season in 2011.6. (7) Presentation (San Jose, Calif.), 0-0
After winning their first state D-II title, the Panthers (39-2 in 2011) open their season at Spikefest hosted by Independence (San Jose) on Friday.7. (8) Punahou (Honolulu), 8-0
With a winning streak at 23, the Buff ‘n Blue will open their dual season Tuesday versus Kamehameha-Kapalama.8. (9) Torrey Pines (San Diego), 0-0
The Falcons won't begin play until Sept. 12 against Fallbrook, but a roster filled with future D-1 players keeps TP in the spotlight.
9. (10) Coppell (Texas), 10-1
The Cowgirls are off to a 10-1 start after sweeping (4-0) the Allen Tournament. After losing its first game to Lovejoy in the Allen finals, Coppell rallied to win 25-23, 30-28. The only loss of season was to previously ranked Carroll (Southlake, Texas).10. (18) Lovejoy (Lucas, Texas), 9-2
After finishing third at Duncanville, the Texas Class 3A 2011 state champions finished second at the Allen Invite, losing 2-1 to No. 9 Coppell. Prior to the Allen tournament, Lovejoy swept Rowlett and previously ranked Carroll (Southlake).11. (11) Barnstable (Hyannis, Mass.), 0-0
The Red Raiders have won 13 of the last 15 state titles in their classification and are coming off an unbeaten season (23-0). They open their season Sept. 7 at North Quincy.12. (12) Los Alamitos (Calif.), 0-0
The Griffins finished 2011 at 38-5 and will open their season Sept. 11.13. (13) Bishop Miege (Shawnee Mission, Kan.), 0-0
The defending Kansas Class 5A state champions open their season Thursday at Washburn Rural. The Stags are aiming for their fifth-straight state title.14. (14) Benet Academy (Lisle, Ill.), 6-0
In a rematch of last year's state semifinals against St. Charles East, the Redwings dominated in winning 25-11, 25-6. The Redwings followed their home opener by going 5-0 to win the Benet Invitational for the second year in a row, defeating West Aurora in the finals 28-26, 25-23. Benet hosts York Wednesday.15. (15) Mount Notre Dame (Cincinnati), 2-0
Ohio's defending D-1 champions opened their season with convincing 2-0 wins over Centerville and Chaminade Julienne. MND visits Lakota West Thursday.16. (16) Yorktown (Ind.), 8-0
The Tigers beat Muncie Central to make an early statement and remained unbeaten after winning their own prestigious tournament last weekend. The Tigers, off to an 8-0 start, host South County Tuesday.17. (17) St. Ursula Academy (Toledo, Ohio), 1-0
Opened its season last weekend with 3-1 win over Kenston (Chagrin Falls). Before playing in the Best of Ohio Tournament Saturday, the Arrows host Perrysburg and Whitmer.18. (19) Penn (Mishawaka, Ind.), 7-0
The Kingsmen, two-time defending state champions, opened their season with three dual match wins, then swept through the Plymouth Tournament unblemished in four matches. Up next for PHS are Goshen (Tuesday) and Elkhart Central (Thursday).19. (NR) Carmel (Ind.), 9-0
The Greyhounds have yet to lose a game and explode into the Xcellent 25 with a 9-0 start, after sweeping previously ranked Avon (No. 20) and going 4-0 to win Mishawaka Invitational. The Greyhounds take on Center Grove on Tuesday. 20. (NR) Mercy (Louisville, Ky.), 7-0
Off to a 7-0 start, the Jaguars host Bullit East Tuesday before a Thursday showdown with 10-0 Dupont Manual (Louisville).21. (24) Whitewater (Fayetteville, Ga.), 11-0
The 5A Hounds are 11-0 after defeating 6A Walton. Whitewater hosts a trio of matches Tuesday and dual opponents Wednesday.22. (22) Marymount (Los Angeles), 0-0
The Sailors were 33-5 and state D-I runnerup in 2011. The Sailors open their season Thursday hosting Palos Verdes. 23. (23) Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 0-0
Cheyenne Mountain opens Thursday against No. 3 Chaparral and is working on an impressive win streak at 52 and has won four straight 4A state titles.24. (25) Xavier College Prep (Phoenix), 0-0
The Gators won 42 matches last year and begin their season against Westwood (Mesa) Aug. 28.25. (NR) St. James Academy (Lenexa, Kan.), 1-0
Led by freshmen Jenna Gray and Adrianna Fitzmorris, the Thunder opened their season with a win over Gardner-Edgerton. SJA hosts Blue Springs Tuesday.Dropped out:
5. Carroll (Southlake, Texas)
20. Avon (Ind.)
21. Berkeley PrepContact National Volleyball Editor Tom Mauldin at email@example.com.