KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Lady Vols will begin the season with their highest rank in seven years as they gear up for their most anticipated season yet under fourth-year head coach Kellie Harper.

The Associated Press released its preseason women’s college basketball Top 25 poll on Tuesday, with Tennessee slotting in at No. 5 behind South Carolina, Stanford, Texas and Iowa.

The top-5 ranking marks their highest season-opening rank since they began the 2015-16 season at No. 4 and the second preseason top 25 appearance since Harper took the reigns in 2019.

Tennessee returns four full-time starters from 2021 in addition to three highly-touted senior transfers, a sophomore transfer who was a five-star prep recruit and a five-star freshman signee.

Seniors Jordan Horston, Tamari Key and Rickea Jackson were all named 2022-23 Preseason Media All-SEC First Team selections.

The Lady Vols started the 2021 season 18-1 and made their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 since 2016. Their 25-9 overall record matched Harpers’ best ever season as a coach with a 25-9 overall record. She is one of two coaches in history to lead four different women’s programs to the NCAA Tournament.

Harper’s contract has since been extended through the 2026-27 season.

The Tennessee men’s basketball team is ranked 11th in the preseason AP poll.