Gophers: Ohio State transfer Kylie Murr has big hopes for final season at Minnesota

It’s all new for University of Minnesota volleyball fifth-year senior Kylie Murr. A new city, new teammates and new coaches, and she’s just fine with that.

Murr, an Indiana native who spent four years as one of the best defensive players with the Ohio State volleyball team, was one of six seniors with eligibility remaining after last season. But they couldn’t all stay with an extra year due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. She knew her final year of college volleyball probably wouldn’t be with the Buckeyes, but she wanted to stay in the Big Ten and wants to compete for a national championship.

That’s where the Gophers and new coach Keegan Cook got involved. It didn’t take long for Murr, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, to decided Maroon and Gold would be her next colors.

"Minnesota is a really good program historically, and it just felt right," Murr said.

What attracted her most to the Gophers?

"They have a great offense, it’s one of the fastest in the county and they have big swingers. They’re always tough to defend and if you’re a good serving and passing team, it’s really hard to beat," Murr said.

That, and one of her best friends is Indiana native and current Gophers’ senior Melani Shaffmaster. The two have been club teammates since they were 12 years old.

"Definitely a big one. It definitely made it easier. It wasn’t the only reason I’m here, I’m here to compete. But to have that friendship and someone you’re comfortable playing with was a big factor," Murr said.

Murr comes to the Gophers as the next in a line of top defensive players. Minnesota had CC McGraw for five years, and Murr leaves the Buckeyes as the program’s all-time leader with 1,935 digs. She was a First-Team All-Big Ten pick last year, and holds Ohio State’s single-season record with 559 digs in 2019.

Cook is excited to coach her, rather than go against her.

"I’m eager to see what it looks like in our gym. I’ve experienced her on the other side of the net in my time at Washington, it was not a pleasant experience. I would like that to be on our side," Cook said. "Her experience and her competitive spirit is pretty unique."

Her competitive fire stood out the most in speaking with reporters this week. She plays with energy, and calls herself a "hype girl" for her teammates. That’s in addition to being one of the better defensive specialists in the country.

She also does whatever it takes to make sure points are extended, and the ball doesn’t hit the floor.

"Defense is all heart and grit. Just having a lot of energy and having that confidence and grit to go out there and get in front of those big swings," Murr said. "It takes some nerve, not everybody is willing to go get hit by a ball coming at you 70 miles per hour, gotta have heart."

This summer has been about getting a new team to gel together. The Gophers had Shaffmaster, Taylor Landfair and McKenna Wucherer as their key returners. Cook brought in three transfers, including Murr.

Murr said building that chemistry this summer has been as important as anything. She herself has been on campus about a month.

"It takes work. You can’t just come out to a team of 15 new girls and expect to just fit in right away. It’s taken work outside of the gym and on the court, but outside of the gym I’ve tried to go out of meet all the girls and make that connection with them," Murr said.

The Gophers start fall camp in a few weeks, and open the 2023 season against Northern Iowa on Aug. 18 at Maturi Pavilion. Their non-conference schedule includes Baylor, Texas, TCU, Florida, Oregon, Stanford and Creighton.

It’s a gauntlet, and Murr wouldn’t have it any other way for her final season of college volleyball.