Nicole Branagh attended the University of Minnesota where she played outside hitter. During her time at Minnesota, Branagh was twice named Second Team All-American and was voted Big Ten co-Player of the Year in her senior season. By the time Branagh graduated, she had tallied the most kills in Big Ten history.
Following her collegiate career, Branagh decided to play for the US National Team from 2001 to 2003, where she ended her career after winning a bronze medal at the 2003 Pan American Games. Branagh made her AVP debut in 2004 at Belmar when she qualified for the main draw. Since then she has gone on to win 16 AVP tournaments with three different partners. Branagh was named AVP Rookie of the Year in 2005, Most Improved Player in 2006 and 2008, and won MVP, Best Offensive Player, and Team of the Year in 2009. She has also earned over $1 million in tournament winnings during her beach volleyball career.