New Volleyball Coaching Staff




Ignatius L Hoops

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The press release for those who don't click through:

MINNEAPOLIS -- Kristen Kelsay has been hired as the associate head coach for Minnesota volleyball, joining the staff of first year head coach Keegan Cook.

Kelsay has seven years of experience as an assistant coach in the Big Ten, including four with Michigan State (2015-18) and three with Northwestern (2019-21).

"I want to thank Director of Athletics Mark Coyle, Deputy Athletic Director Julie Manning and Head Coach Keegan Cook for this incredible opportunity to join the Minnesota volleyball program," said Kelsay. "I cannot wait to get on campus and begin forming relationships with the team, staff and recruits."

In 2022, she worked as the recruiting coordinator and associate director of Volleyball Club Nebraska. Here, she served as the lead coach and coached both the U16 and U18 Elite teams. During her time at VCN, she assisted with the USA National Team Development Program, working with the U15/U16 age group.

Prior to her time in Nebraska, Kelsay served for three years as assistant coach at Northwestern from 2019-21. She helped the Wildcats win 14 games in 2019, finishing on a 4-2 run in Big Ten play, including a five-set upset over then No. 17 Illinois. The victory was NU's first over Illinois since 2014. After a COVID-shortened spring 2021 season, Kelsay paved the way for the future of Northwestern volleyball, helping to sign a top-15 2022 recruiting class in the fall of 2021.

In her final season in Evanston, Northwestern won 12 matches, including seven in Big Ten play. Setter Alexa Rosseau ranked in the top-10 in the Big Ten in assists per set (9.52) under the guidance of Kelsay.

"There's nothing more important to the immediate and long-term success of the Gopher volleyball program than the integrity and the competitive drive of the coaches and student-athletes who join our program," said head coach Keegan Cook. "It was clear throughout the search process that Kristen Kelsay is the exact person we were looking for to help lead our program."

Before NU, Kelsay coached for four years as an assistant coach at Michigan State under head coach Cathy George. In addition to her coaching responsibilities, Kelsay also served as the program's academic liaison and recruiting coordinator.

Helping the team finish with a four-year record of 85-48, Kelsay helped the Spartans reach the 2017 Elite Eight, their first regional finals appearance since 1996. She was voted a "Thirty Under 30" AVCA award honoree and specialized with the MSU setters. She also worked with Michigan State's all-time assist leader and two time All-American, Rachel Minarick.

"There's no question our student-athletes will immediately benefit from her leadership and commitment to their development, both individually and collectively," said Cook. "Her experiences as an athlete and coach as well her institutional knowledge of the Big Ten and surrounding recruiting landscape are invaluable."

Prior to her time on staff at MSU, she played for the Spartans, serving as a team captain for three years. During her time as a student-athlete, she appeared in 133 career matches. She received CoSIDA Academic All-America honors, a three-time Academic All-Big Ten nominee and a Big Ten Distinguished Scholar. In her career, MSU finished with an overall record of 85-50 and made two NCAA Sweet 16 appearances.

Originally from Wheaton, Ill., Kelsay attended St. Francis High School, where she was a First Team All-State selection in 2009. Her father, Bruce, played for the Golden Gophers' football team from 1975-77.

"It is an honor and a privilege to join the Gopher family and compete in the Big Ten. I am thrilled for the opportunity to work alongside Keegan to build upon the tradition and success of Minnesota volleyball," said Kelsay.
 

GopherJack

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I'm assuming Cook's staff is now full? (no more hires need to be made)
 


Ignatius L Hoops

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I'm assuming Cook's staff is now full? (no more hires need to be made)
There remains an open assistant coach position



About the Job​

The assistant coach position requires the successful candidate to work in-person on the Twin Cities Campus location.
The assistant coach (AC) is expected to work closely with the head coach, associate head coach and all other stakeholders within our program and the department. They are expected to promote and uphold the behaviors and values that drive our culture and demonstrate a significant capacity for work. They should be committed to student athlete (SA) development on the court, in the classroom and in life. They should be committed to the process of improvement and be a person of character and integrity. They should also demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion
 
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Gophers_4life

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After reading what those who have been coached by her are saying, I don't think we could have hired anyone better. To a program like Minnesota's, she is going to be able to recruit like crazy. I think she probably was a better hire than even Cook himself -- and that's saying something.
Interesting you say this. Not saying it is not true.


But outside programs like Texas and Nebraska, and maybe Wisconsin now? who actually are offering recruits who come there serious NIL $$$ for playing college volleyball .... other than those, what really sets apart a program for like the Under Armour All-American level recruits?

Why would one pick Minnesota over a Louisville, Pitt, Purdue, Stanford, Oregon, etc etc?

Don't think any of those are offering lucrative NIL opportunities. A scholarship is a scholarship.



So it seems like, we're just living off the hope that we will continue to be expected to be a top 10 type of program.
 

4EverAGopher

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I remember reacting to McCutheon's choice for Assistant Volleyball Coach, when he was hired as their HC. I had no idea who Matt Houk was and, seriously, I was surprised at the hire. I thought he would go back to his USA ties when bringing in his assistants.

If we can go by why these TOP RECRUITS, have recently transferred out or decommitted, it appears playing time, Hugh's retirement and in some player(s) eyes are no longer considered a TOP program. I personaly have concluded that Hugh played a huge role in many of their decisions....more than what we want to admit.

We need a TOP RECRUITER to keep up with the likes of Texas, Wisconsin, Stanford and Nebraska. I am hoping Kristan Kelsay can take it to a much higher level than The Houk's. IMO our future lies in the hands of our recruiter.
 




4EverAGopher

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The future lies in the hands of the head coach...as usual
So what are your thoughts when comparing Hugh McCutcheons and Keegan Cook? Because most people would think by hiring the former USA Volleyball Coach it was a slam dunk for the Gopher program.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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So what are your thoughts when comparing Hugh McCutcheons and Keegan Cook? Because most people would think by hiring the former USA Volleyball Coach it was a slam dunk for the Gopher program.
Hugh arrived with more gravitas and then learned (quite well) to run a college program. Yes, the hiring was a slam dunk; but success was not guaranteed. Hugh built a unique brand with connections everywhere. Keegan Cook will have to chart his own course

I like what I know about Cook. I’m assuming he’s got the college part nailed. As to the remainder, we’ll know a lot more after Spring volleyball.
 

Gophers_4life

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Hugh's vision was to run a college women's team like the Olympic women's team. Six rotation outsides and hyper tempo offense.

He never got it to work here.


Maybe it was part of his recruiting pitch and maybe that pitch worked, to some extent.
 




Hrothgar

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I remember reacting to McCutheon's choice for Assistant Volleyball Coach, when he was hired as their HC. I had no idea who Matt Houk was and, seriously, I was surprised at the hire. I thought he would go back to his USA ties when bringing in his assistants.

If we can go by why these TOP RECRUITS, have recently transferred out or decommitted, it appears playing time, Hugh's retirement and in some player(s) eyes are no longer considered a TOP program. I personaly have concluded that Hugh played a huge role in many of their decisions....more than what we want to admit.

We need a TOP RECRUITER to keep up with the likes of Texas, Wisconsin, Stanford and Nebraska. I am hoping Kristan Kelsay can take it to a much higher level than The Houk's. IMO our future lies in the hands of our recruiter.
My homespun theory is that D1 coaching success is (with only a slight exaggeration) about 90% recruiting depth of top talent, keeping them in the program, and letting them all use their talent. D1 coaches all have the 10% skill to manage the flow of a game once it begins, but that skill won't do them much good if the 90% is lacking. I'd guess that MN's HC was close to 100% through 2019. IMO the last 3 years the depth of recruitment and player satisfaction/retention fell off noticeably. There must be folks who know why; I've not noticed anyone explaining why. If I got this all wrong, please set me right.
 

Gophers_4life

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My homespun theory is that D1 coaching success is (with only a slight exaggeration) about 90% recruiting depth of top talent, keeping them in the program, and letting them all use their talent. D1 coaches all have the 10% skill to manage the flow of a game once it begins, but that skill won't do them much good if the 90% is lacking. I'd guess that MN's HC was close to 100% through 2019. IMO the last 3 years the depth of recruitment and player satisfaction/retention fell off noticeably. There must be folks who know why; I've not noticed anyone explaining why. If I got this all wrong, please set me right.
Development is important, more than 10%.

Some are freaks and would've developed into top pro/Olympic players no matter where they went, sure.
 

NateDawgUM

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I'd guess that MN's HC was close to 100% through 2019. IMO the last 3 years the depth of recruitment and player satisfaction/retention fell off noticeably. There must be folks who know why; I've not noticed anyone explaining why. If I got this all wrong, please set me right.

The recruiting was incredibly "well ranked" at the end of Hugh's tenure. Landfair and Wucherer were both #1 recruits in the country, Wenaas was #3, Shaffmaster and Booth were both top 20 recruits.

So no, recruiting didn't fall off.

Hugh had Sam Seliger-Swenson for the middle 4 years of his career. That is the keys to a Lamborghini -- the Gophers should have won a National Title. I think that clouds our judgement of Hugh's tenure.

Passing was inconsistent and energy was low during the last few years...I think that was the only glaring issue -- they're still a very talented team. It was time for new blood either way and I don't think we should lament any changes or departures from the last year...the time was lifeless in the Ohio State loss in the NCAA tournament.

Oh yes, also Hugh's "low error" approach doesn't work as well when other teams are loaded with Covid fifth year seniors who are going to have no problem with your lollipop serves and tip shots.
 

Gophers_4life

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Hugh had Sam Seliger-Swenson for the middle 4 years of his career. That is the keys to a Lamborghini -- the Gophers should have won a National Title. I think that clouds our judgement of Hugh's tenure.
Should've won a national title in Minneapolis in 2018.

Biggest choke job in modern college volleyball.
 


NextYear_76

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Should've won a national title in Minneapolis in 2018.

Biggest choke job in modern college volleyball.
Remember Stanford won the title with only one loss that season. Was the Gophers best shot but not a certainty. Four losses that year were to Stanford, Oregon (twice) and Penn State. Oregon was hard to figure out but sometimes may just be a bad matchup
 

Hrothgar

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The recruiting was incredibly "well ranked" at the end of Hugh's tenure. Landfair and Wucherer were both #1 recruits in the country, Wenaas was #3, Shaffmaster and Booth were both top 20 recruits.

So no, recruiting didn't fall off.

Hugh had Sam Seliger-Swenson for the middle 4 years of his career. That is the keys to a Lamborghini -- the Gophers should have won a National Title. I think that clouds our judgement of Hugh's tenure.

Passing was inconsistent and energy was low during the last few years...I think that was the only glaring issue -- they're still a very talented team. It was time for new blood either way and I don't think we should lament any changes or departures from the last year...the time was lifeless in the Ohio State loss in the NCAA tournament.

Oh yes, also Hugh's "low error" approach doesn't work as well when other teams are loaded with Covid fifth year seniors who are going to have no problem with your lollipop serves and tip shots.
Your comments are very interesting. True, MN had top-20 recruits but IMO not much team dept in support. I think the 2018 Oregon loss was bec MN was looking at Nebr next. MN in 2018 peaked too early & Nebr was peaking for NCAAs. The Gophers' minds were more on Nebr than on Oregon. The mystery to me is what you rightly term inconsistent passing and low energy the last few years. The mystery is: Why was a squad of such great talent of such low energy? Hard to miss it the last 3 years and very hard to watch. Your comment about WI shows what a graduate school team con do in an undergraduate league.
 

dlw4gophers

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Should've won a national title in Minneapolis in 2018.

Biggest choke job in modern college volleyball.
Wrong. Should have beat Oregon that year, but doubt they would have Beat Nebraska the next game. Then there would have been that Plummer person and the rest of the Stanford team.
 

Gophers_4life

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Wrong. Should have beat Oregon that year, but doubt they would have Beat Nebraska the next game. Then there would have been that Plummer person and the rest of the Stanford team.
We won the Big Ten that year, which included sweeping Nebraska 3-1 both at the Pav and in Lincoln. With the game being at the Pav, I'd like to think we would've won again. Then would've beat Illinois in the national semi at Target Center.

Beating Plummer, sure that's tough, but bare minimum should've got to the natty.
 

4EverAGopher

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The recruiting was incredibly "well ranked" at the end of Hugh's tenure. Landfair and Wucherer were both #1 recruits in the country, Wenaas was #3, Shaffmaster and Booth were both top 20 recruits.

So no, recruiting didn't fall off.

Hugh had Sam Seliger-Swenson for the middle 4 years of his career. That is the keys to a Lamborghini -- the Gophers should have won a National Title. I think that clouds our judgement of Hugh's tenure.

Passing was inconsistent and energy was low during the last few years...I think that was the only glaring issue -- they're still a very talented team. It was time for new blood either way and I don't think we should lament any changes or departures from the last year...the time was lifeless in the Ohio State loss in the NCAA tournament.

Oh yes, also Hugh's "low error" approach doesn't work as well when other teams are loaded with Covid fifth year seniors who are going to have no problem with your lollipop serves and tip shots.
In the latter years, Hugh, didn't have HIS TOP 4 CONSISTENT WINNING TEAM IN EVERY POSITION ON THE COURT. That was one of the problems.

I also feel with SSS the pass didn't have to be right on. She was a setter who could adjust etc. when she needed to. She also had players she was setting in Club Volleyball. It has not been so with Shaff. IMO the latter EXCELS in every aspect of her game over SSS, but the one thing she struggles with is her setting and placement of those sets for her hitters.

Hugh needed a back court that could complement Shaff since she has been here. He never succeeded in that and in all honesty it was never a top recruiting position for him since he was HC here at Minnesota.

Now in all fairness to Hugh, he had Barnes and Choboy for his starting libero these past 3-4 years. However, he chose CC/Kilkelly over Barnes and Choboy made the decision to decommit. A scholarship decision and his decision to place CC over Barnes as his starting libero, I truly believe, WAS THE START OF THE DOWNSLIDE. IMO Barnes proved herself at Wisconsin and Choboy will prove her worth at Nebraska.

YOU NEED TO RECRUIT PLAYERS BASED ON YOUR SETTER'S SKILLS. She is the QB of volleyball. So is Gomillion and/or Murr the answer? They are not great passers, so once again, if we should recruit one and/or the other as our starting L/DS we will probably be OOS all season again.
 

(R)uffda!

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Hugh's vision was to run a college women's team like the Olympic women's team. Six rotation outsides and hyper tempo offense.

He never got it to work here.


Maybe it was part of his recruiting pitch and maybe that pitch worked, to some extent.
Sorry, but under what possible metric can one conclude Hugh "never got it to work here"?
 



(R)uffda!

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OK. Tough crowd. But fwiw, including a 277-74 record:

Hugh McCutcheon's 11 Seasons at Minnesota:
  • Eight-straight NCAA Sweet 16-or-better tournament finishes
  • 10 NCAA Tournament selections
  • 2015, 2016 and 2019 NCAA Final Four appearances
  • 2015 and 2018 Big Ten Champions
  • 2015 and 2018 Big Ten Coach of the Year
  • 2018 AVCA Coach of the Year
  • 10 Sweet 16's and Five Elite Eight's
  • Six Big Ten Players of the Year (six of last eight have been Gophers)
  • One AVCA/ESPNw National Player of the Year (Sarah Wilhite, 2016)
  • The only coach in the Big Ten to win 15-or-more conference games from 2015-22
  • 39 All-Big Ten selections
  • 26 All-America honors (12 first team)
 

IMGopher

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OK. Tough crowd. But fwiw, including a 277-74 record:

Hugh McCutcheon's 11 Seasons at Minnesota:
  • Eight-straight NCAA Sweet 16-or-better tournament finishes
  • 10 NCAA Tournament selections
  • 2015, 2016 and 2019 NCAA Final Four appearances
  • 2015 and 2018 Big Ten Champions
  • 2015 and 2018 Big Ten Coach of the Year
  • 2018 AVCA Coach of the Year
  • 10 Sweet 16's and Five Elite Eight's
  • Six Big Ten Players of the Year (six of last eight have been Gophers)
  • One AVCA/ESPNw National Player of the Year (Sarah Wilhite, 2016)
  • The only coach in the Big Ten to win 15-or-more conference games from 2015-22
  • 39 All-Big Ten selections
  • 26 All-America honors (12 first team)
Well, they can go together. He did some amazing work for our program. At the same time, maybe a stylistic change could help us break that ceiling.
 

Gophers_4life

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OK. Tough crowd. But fwiw, including a 277-74 record:

Hugh McCutcheon's 11 Seasons at Minnesota:
  • Eight-straight NCAA Sweet 16-or-better tournament finishes
  • 10 NCAA Tournament selections
  • 2015, 2016 and 2019 NCAA Final Four appearances
  • 2015 and 2018 Big Ten Champions
  • 2015 and 2018 Big Ten Coach of the Year
  • 2018 AVCA Coach of the Year
  • 10 Sweet 16's and Five Elite Eight's
  • Six Big Ten Players of the Year (six of last eight have been Gophers)
  • One AVCA/ESPNw National Player of the Year (Sarah Wilhite, 2016)
  • The only coach in the Big Ten to win 15-or-more conference games from 2015-22
  • 39 All-Big Ten selections
  • 26 All-America honors (12 first team)
Since SSS left, it hasn't been nearly as rosy as the picture you try to paint, and is mainly what draws the ire.

If you have one of the best setters, it runs more smoothly, sure.
 




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