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University of Minnesota hires Keegan Cook of Washington as new volleyball coach

The University of Minnesota announced Monday that University of Washington’s Keegan Cook will be named head coach of the Gophers, ending months of speculation over who would take over the program following Hugh McCutcheon’s decision to step down after coaching the Gophers. team for 11 seasons.

Cook has been the Huskies head coach since 2015 and in eight seasons he has won four Pac-12 titles, made four trips to the Elite Eight and reached the Final Four in 2021. This season, Washington finished 20-11 and 12-8 in conference play and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Texas Christian.

But, as a testament to his success in Washington, those 20 wins equaled Cook’s worst tally in eight seasons. He went 198-56 on aggregate and won over 25 games on five occasions. He was named Pac-12 Coach of the Year for the 2020-21 season.

Last year, the Huskies reached the Sweet 16 where they lost in a grueling five sets to Texas after winning the first two sets.

Prior to Washington, he worked for eight years as an assistant at St. Mary’s – his alma mater. Cook also has ties to USA Volleyball and the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), two organizations that McCutcheon also had close ties to.

Cook was an assistant coach for the USA U19 women’s team that won gold at the Pan American Cup last summer and served as volleyball information supervisor for the FIVB.

In fact, when Cook took over as head coach of the Huskies, he told the Seattle Times that he installed a “good after good” philosophy in his players. It was a philosophy of consistently operating at a high level that he acknowledged borrowing from McCutcheon.

Now, Cook will replace McCutcheon and learn from him after McCutcheon accepted a newly created administrative role at the University of Minnesota as an assistant athletic director/athletic development coach beginning Jan. 1.

The Gophers’ season ended last week with a four-set loss to Ohio State in the Sweet 16. They finished 22-9 overall and 15-5 in Big Ten play – it was the eighth straight season where the Gophers won within 15 games of the Big Ten.

This level of achievement is one of the reasons the position was highly coveted. And if Cook can keep that roster together – there’s always the possibility of players heading to the transfer portal – the Gophers will once again be a formidable group.

Taylor Landfair was the Big Ten Player of the Year while setter Melani Shaffmaster and rookie Carter Booth were both first-team All-Big Ten. Jenna Wenaas went on to become the most versatile player on the court while Arica Davis became a force in the middle block. Add to that Mckenna Wucherer coming off a season where she struggled with injuries and still made the conference freshman team while totaling 194 wins.

The Gophers have signed two freshmen who plan to graduate early and attend spring training beginning in January in Calissa Minatee (North Kansas City, Mo.) and Sydney Schnichels (Willmar). Both are considered among the nation’s top prospects for the Class of 2023. On top of that, Wayzata’s twin sisters Stella and Olivia Swenson have verbally committed to the team for 2024.

This is the eighth full-time head coach in program history, and comes after two successful eras. McCutcheon led the team from 2012 to 2022 after Mike Hebert led the program from 1996 to 2010. (Laura Bush served as interim head coach in 2011.) The Gophers have appeared in the NCAA Tournament for 25 of the last 27 seasons.

An introductory press conference with Cook is scheduled for Friday.

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