MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One of the most successful teams of the last decade in Minnesota is that of the Gopher volleyball program, which starts its season Aug. 30.

When you achieve the level of success — and consistent success — that the Gopher volleyball program has, you don’t rest on the past. Which is why coach Hugh McCutcheon is so happy with his team’s approach.

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“I think there’s always room for growth and improvement. This thing, even though you’d want to believe it’s an algorithm, it’s not. Every year we have to get a little bit better, we have to find ways to improve,” McCutcheon said. “This group so far, they’re not just talking about things. They’re living the words, not just saying them.”

Part of Minnesota’s past is the way their season ended a year ago when they, as the #2 team in the country with national title aspirations, were upset in the Sweet Sixteen.

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McCutcheon cautioned against calling that a disappointment, instead challenging his team to see it as an encouragement.

“Everybody had their hopes high, and they should have, you know? It was OK to dream big dreams with that team. It didn’t work out. So you get your heart broken a little bit, but it doesn’t mean that somehow we farmed it,” McCutcheon said.

They’ll certainly challenge themselves to be ready. They have 28 matches on their schedule, against 22 different teams. Eleven of those teams were in the NCAA Tournament last year.

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“We’re all focused, we all have a goal that we’re trying to get better at, we’re all trying to work together as a team, and I think that aspect has brought us together and has elevated our level of play,” player Stephanie Samedy said.