- Published Date
- Written by Super User
- Category: Women
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Birthdate: Jan. 31, 1979
Hometown: Orinda, Calif.
Resides: Torrance, Calif.
BEST FINISH / WINNINGS
Domestic: 1st (16 times) $671,667.50
International: 1st (3 times) $348,025.00
Overall: 1st (19 times) $1,019,692.50
Former Olympian Nicole Branagh partnered for the 2012 AVP Tour with three-time Olympic Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh. The duo came up short in both the Cincinnati Open and Santa Barbara Championships to Jen Kessy and April Ross, however they did not drop a set to any other opponent in either event. On the international front, Branagh teamed up with five different partners during the 2012 FIVB season. Her best finish came in the finale in Bang Saen, Thailand with Lauren Fendrick, where they placed fourth.
Branagh got her start in beach volleyball in 2004, where she advanced to the main draw in her third event ever in Belmar, placing 13th, earning her a spot in the main draw ever since. In 2005, she played with three different partners for the second straight season while finishing a best of fifth in Boulder. Her performance earned her the AVP’s Rookie of the Year honors after chalking up four wins over teams seeded eighth or better, while just losing once to a team seeded below her.
Branagh started off the 2007 season with star player Elaine Youngs, forming a dynamic partnership as Branagh won her first AVP event in the season opener in Miami. Branagh and Youngs were in the semifinals in 12 of 14 events, winning three of the 10 finals they competed in. Their second win, in Seaside Heights, set the mark for the longest match in AVP history (1 hr, 41 min). The pair finished as the second-ranked team on the Tour and won the Cuervo Gold Crown Series as the only team to play in all three of the finals in the first three events, earning a $100,000 team bonus. Branagh finished second in kills per set (7.48), sixth in aces (.90) and ninth in hitting percentage (.431). On the FIVB Tour, they played in eight events, earning two bronzes and a silver medal in their last three tournaments.
Branagh and Youngs continued their partnership for the 2008 season, where they advanced to the semifinals in 11 of 12 AVP events and to six finals. The pair won two events and finished as the third-ranked team on the Tour while winning the Cuervo Gold Crown Championship for the second consecutive year. Her effort earned her the AVP’s Most Improved Player for the second time (2006, 2008), the only player in the history of the Tour to earn it twice. On the FIVB Tour, Branagh and Youngs won four medals in eight events en route to qualifying for the Beijing Olympics. In winning the title in Barcelona, they became just the second team to rebound from a second-round loss to win an event. Branagh and Youngs were fifth in the world in qualifying for Beijing, where they finished fifth. Following the Olympics, Branagh competed in Dubai with Kerri Walsh, and the pair won in what was their first event together. In the final two events of the year, Branagh played with Tyra Turner, placing second and third.
In their final years as partners, 2009 was one of the most successful for Branagh and Youngs as they appeared in the championship match in each of their first 13 AVP events, winning nine times. Branagh won her first Manhattan Beach Open title as the duo swept all seven opponents. She ended the season second in hitting percentage (.483) and fifth in aces per set (.81). Internationally, the pair placed fifth in the World Championships before claiming the bronze medal in the Gstaad Grand Slam and silver in Klagenfurt. Overall, they won three medals in five events.
Branagh formed a new partnership in 2010 with Misty May-Treanor. In the season opener in Fort Lauderdale, they took home first place, becoming the first team to win a domestic event in their first tournament since 2002 and just the second team to do it since 1996. The duo advanced to the semifinals in six of seven AVP events, and five of their six losses were three-set matches. They also won the final AVP event in Long Beach, Calif. On the FIVB Tour, Branagh and May-Treanor advanced to three semifinals in their first five events, with a best finish of third, before going four straight tournaments finishing ninth or lower. Branagh then partnered back with Walsh for the final two FIVB events, placing fifth before winning in Phuket, Thailand.