Setter McNeil leaves team for personal reasons

McNeil, a 5-foot-11-inch sophomore, was expected to compete for the starting setter role.

Charlie Armitz

Gophers volleyball setter Kellie McNeil, who earned numerous high-school accolades and played in 52 sets last season, has left Minnesota “for personal reasons,” a team spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.

McNeil, a 5-foot-11-inch sophomore, was expected to compete for the starting setter role with senior Mia Tabberson, as she did last season.

Now, Tabberson will likely claim the starting role, with transfer Alexandra Palmer and freshman Karyn Israel backing her up.

“Depth is good and competition is good [at setter],” interim head coach Laura Bush told GopherSports.com on Tuesday. “We will continue to evaluate each setter throughout the season.”

Bush will step down to an assistant coaching position this fall when Hugh McCutcheon takes over as head coach. McCutcheon is currently coaching the U.S. women’s Olympic volleyball team at the London Games.

McNeil’s freshman year was full of ups and downs, but it ended on a poor note, as she was benched midway through the Gophers’ second-round NCAA match against Washington. With McNeil setting, Minnesota had fallen behind 2-0. After Tabberson replaced her, the Gophers rallied for a five-set win.

McNeil helped lead Lakeville North High School to a state championship in 2010. Before joining the Gophers, she was ranked the No. 8 player and top setter in the nation among high-school players by PrepVolleyball.com.

Her sister Taylr McNeil had committed to play for the Gophers in July 2010, but her club volleyball team for Minnesota One Volleyball no longer lists a college affiliation.

Kellie McNeil’s Twitter account, @mcgopher5, which was active Sunday, has since been deactivated.