The transition continues

Laura Bush’s job in 2011 was to lead an effective transition between the coaching eras of Mike Hebert and Hugh McCutcheon.

Charlie Armitz

Was this yearâÄôs volleyball team the last of its kind, or the first?

As interim head coach, Laura BushâÄôs job in 2011 âÄî at least part of it âÄî was to lead an effective transition between the coaching eras of Mike Hebert and Hugh McCutcheon.

Hebert retired in December 2010, and Minnesota hired McCutcheon, the head coach of the gold medal-winning 2008 U.S. menâÄôs Olympic volleyball team, two months later.

McCutcheonâÄôs era officially begins September 2012 when he will be released from his duties as head coach of the 2012 U.S. womenâÄôs Olympic volleyball team following the London Olympics.

While McCutcheonâÄôs hire is expected to boost the program in the long run, the GophersâÄô near future may be limited to rebuilding.

Minnesota signed just two players this fall âÄî outside hitter Karlie Hauer and libero Lindsey Lawmaster âÄî to join the team as freshmen in 2012.

Yet the program graduates three of its best players âÄî Hailey Cowles, libero Jessica Granquist and middle blocker Ariana Filho.

The teamâÄôs senior leadership next season will likely come from setter Mia Tabberson, Katherine Harms and role player Brianna Haugen.

Tori Dixon and Ashley Wittman, the teamâÄôs All-Big Ten honorees, return as juniors.

âÄúThe program is in a good position when Hugh takes it over,âÄù Bush said. âÄúItâÄôll actually be stronger, I think, with the addition of some personnel and players already know the system.âÄù

Even next year?

âÄúI see nothing but good things for the 2012 season,âÄù Bush said.