For the primary time in 11 seasons, the Minnesota girls’s volleyball crew will take to the court docket underneath a brand new head coach.
Keegan Cook dinner, who changed Hugh McCutcheon in December, is getting ready the crew for his or her first serve in August. Cook dinner has added promising new expertise to the squad and expects a nationwide championship.
“That’s what I used to be employed to do and I’m not going to shrink back from these expectations,” Cook dinner mentioned in a press convention on Monday.
When McCutcheon introduced he could be stepping down, it got here as a shock given his success as a head coach.
“That is the second time I’ve been a part of a special sort of transition the place issues have been going properly and there’s a nice duty to keep up and exceed the efficiency from earlier than,” Cook dinner mentioned.
Cook dinner had beforehand changed Jim McLaughlin on the College of Washington after McLaughlin served as head coach from 2001-2014. Throughout that span, McLaughlin produced a nationwide championship title, 4 Remaining 4 appearances, three nationwide gamers of the 12 months and three Pac-12 convention titles.
“There’s a variety of that means in Minnesota volleyball,” Cook dinner mentioned. “This program means lots, not simply regionally, however nationally and that duty related with me.”
All through Cook dinner’s eight seasons at Washington, the Huskies held a report of 198-56 and a 74% profitable share, the seventh-best amongst all coaches in Pac-12 historical past. Extra just lately, Cook dinner was named president of the American Volleyball Coaches Affiliation (AVCA) in January.
Already, gamers are noticing the distinction in Cook dinner’s teaching model versus McCutcheon’s.
Exterior hitter Mckenna Wucherer enters her second 12 months on the crew having performed her first season underneath McCutcheon and the spring season underneath Cook dinner.
“Hugh’s practices have been much more relaxed and sort of like – simply targeted on breaking down each single ability,” Wucherer mentioned within the Monday press convention. “Keegan is extra like breaking down the ability after which making use of it immediately.”
Wucherer mentioned she beloved the chance to play for each Cook dinner and McCutcheon and described them each as “legendary coaches.”
The legendary conduct is what the Gophers want after dropping distinguished gamers comparable to CC McGraw, Carter Sales space, Jenna Wenaas, Rachel Kilkelly, Ellie Husemann and Naya Gros.
Cook dinner introduced in three new transfers, certainly one of them being Massive Ten Defensive Participant of the Yr Kylie Murr.
“I needed to remain within the Massive Ten,” Murr mentioned on the press convention. “Minnesota is a extremely good program traditionally and it simply felt proper.”
Murr left her Ohio State crew after scholarship issues arose because of the further 12 months of eligibility COVID-19 offered.
Murr, nevertheless, isn’t fully unfamiliar with the Minnesota crew. She and fourth-year Melani Shaffmaster performed volleyball collectively as youngsters at Munciana Volleyball Membership in Indiana.
Murr mentioned she chosen Minnesota to compete, however having Shaffmaster as a teammate once more was a bonus.
“To have that friendship and somebody you’re snug taking part in with was a giant issue,” Murr mentioned.
Assured, outgoing and energetic are all phrases that describe Murr’s model of play on the court docket.
“Not everyone is prepared to go get hit by a ball coming at you,” Murr mentioned. “You bought to have coronary heart.”
Cook dinner’s expectations and the aggressive nature of Massive Ten volleyball pair properly with Murr’s combative vitality on the court docket.
The Gophers’ non-conference schedule consists of groups that each one performed within the 2022 NCAA Event, together with defending nationwide champion Texas.
“There’s nothing I dislike about [the schedule],” Murr mentioned. “I believe having that robust preseason goes to get us prepared for the primary recreation of the Massive Ten.”
The crew has been working laborious of their open health club and the chemistry is starting to construct amongst one another because the screams of pleasure may be heard via the partitions.
“Our transfers are – wow,” Wucherer mentioned. “We’ve simply grown into an enormous household.”
The Gophers will play on Aug. 18 in opposition to Northern Iowa in an exhibition match earlier than returning to Maturi Pavilion for the common season on Aug. 25.