Washburn Rural's Brooklyn DeLeye throws her arms out to join her teammates for a hug after a point made over St. Thomas Aquinas during the first set of Friday's match. (Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal via USA TODAY NETWORK)

Last year taught Washburn Rural volleyball not to take anything for granted. The Blues entered the state tournament with a 38-0 record only to see their championship hopes dashed with a loss in the semifinals.

The good news: Washburn Rural returned plenty of talent from that team, which finished 40-2, including Kansas Gatorade Volleyball Player of the Year Brooklyn DeLeye.

The team is not a one-woman show, either. DeLeye, the No. 6 recruit in the country, is complemented by other experienced players: seniors Taylor Russell and Katie Borough plus juniors Zoe Canfield and Jada Ingram, among others.

With that array of talent and know-how, Washburn Rural has won 15 of its first 16 matches this season. But the players understand that a strong finish is more important than a fast start. For inspiration, they only have to look up in the rafters or turn to coach Kevin Bordewick, who guided the Blues to seven state titles from 2004-2012.

Washburn Rural appears to be rounding into form, winning seven matches in the last seven days, including the second defeat this season of No. 21 St. Thomas Aquinas. Thanks to that perfect week, the Blues have risen 10 spots to No. 9 in this week’s Just Women’s Sports volleyball team rankings.

Check out the complete rankings below, and click here to see last week’s rankings.

1. Cathedral Catholic (Calif.), 27-0

A senior-heavy roster is leading the Dons to a perfect start to the season, with 58 sets played and 58 sets won.

2. Bloomfield Hills Marian (Mich.), 27-0

On Wednesday, the Mustangs beat Mercy for the third time this season. The Marlins have lost just two other matches.

3. Cornerstone Christian (Texas), 46-2

The Warriors haven’t dropped a set since falling to No. 6 Westminster Christian on Sept. 3.

4. McCutcheon (Ind.), 22-1

Similarly, the Mavericks have lost just one set since an early-season defeat.

5. Prestonwood Christian (Texas), 30-1

The Lions’ success this year bodes well for the future. They have just one senior on the roster.

6. Westminster Christian (Fla.), 12-0

The Warriors have a week off before resuming play with a matchup Friday, the precursor to a weekend tournament.

7. Fayetteville (Ark.), 22-1

Senior Brooke Rockwell, a Stanford Beach Volleyball commit, has surpassed 1,000 career kills, including 308 this season alone.

8. Mira Costa (Calif.), 17-2

Senior Drew Wright notched 27 kills in a five-set win over Redondo Union on Tuesday, extending her team-high total to 174.

9. Washburn Rural (Kan.), 15-1

The Blues first knocked off St. Thomas Aquinas before reeling off six more wins this past weekend.

10. Sierra Canyon (Calif.), 25-3

As the Trailblazers prepare for the stretch run of the season, Olivia Babcock, a Pitt commit, has more than 340 kills.

11. Highland Park (Texas), 31-2

The Scots have reeled off nine consecutive victories, all sweeps.

12. Tompkins (Texas), 28-3

Rice commit Cindy Tchouangwa has reached the 350-kill mark with a month of the regular season remaining.

13. Marymount (Calif.), 20-5

The Sailors appear to be getting hot at the right time, having won 10 of their last 11 matches. Their sole loss in that period came against Cathedral Catholic in the Durango Fall Classic championship.

14. Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.), 21-1

Senior Avery Hobson has 241 kills and a .359 hitting percentage, as the Royals continue to rack up wins following a season-opening loss to McCutcheon.

15. Mother McAuley (Ill.), 17-1

The Mighty Macs’ bid for an undefeated season ended, but they have a chance Thursday to defeat Kentucky powerhouse Assumption for the second time this season.

16. St. James Academy (Kan.), 17-1

The Thunder avoided another loss with a three-set win over Blue Valley Southwest on Wednesday and then closed out the invitational with a sweep of Blue Valley.

17. Oconomowoc (Wis.), 31-1

Behind Cordelia Kearns’ 314 kills and Lilly Wagner’s 759 assists, the Raccoons are eyeing a second straight state title.

18. Santa Fe (Fla.), 13-1

The Raiders’ match Tuesday against Forest was canceled due to Hurricane Ian.

19. Cypress Ranch (Texas), 33-2

Texas A&M commit Bianna Muoneke racked up 19 kills in a sweep Friday, bringing her season total to 560.

20. Assumption (Ky.), 21-4

With star outsider hitter and Texas commit Sydney Helmers not playing this season, junior Charlotte Moriarty leads the Rockets with 236 kills, and senior Whitney Woodrow has racked up 860 assists.

21. St. Thomas Aquinas (Kan.), 18-2

The Saints’ two losses have come at the hands of Washburn Rural, and they bounced back with two wins Tuesday.

22. ‘Iolani (Hawaii), 17-5

The Raiders have tested themselves against top-tier competition, beating Sierra Canyon and other teams from the mainland. More than half their losses have come against Top 25 competition.

23. Mater Dei (Calif.), 19-5

Following an upset loss to Santa Margarita, the Monarchs have reeled off back-to-back league victories. Now, they turn their attention to the prestigious Tournament of Champions this weekend.

24. Benet Academy (Ill.), 19-1

The Redwings’ 12-match winning streak will be put to the test Thursday against Skutt Catholic out of Nebraska.

25. Dike-New Hartford (Iowa), 26-2

The Wolverines suffered a second loss this weekend but bounced back with three consecutive wins.

Phillip Suitts is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. He has worked at a variety of outlets, including The Palm Beach Post and Southeast Missourian, and done a little bit of everything from reporting to editing to running social media accounts. He was born in Atlanta but currently lives in wintry Philadelphia. Follow Phillip on Twitter @PhillipSuitts.