wereFormer Minnesota volleyball players Nicole Branagh and Charnette Fair are among nine athletes who were selected to the USA Women's National Volleyball Team. The team will begin training Thursday in Colorado Springs, Colo. Branagh and Fair are the first two Gophers to train full-time with the USA National Team.
USA Women's National Volleyball Team head coach Toshi Yoshida feels these athletes serve an important role in the national team program. "This is an essential step in the national team pipeline," Yoshida said. "If these players continue to work hard they will have an excellent chance to continue their relationship with USA Volleyball with the 2003 World University Games and the 2004 Olympics."
Branagh was a two-time All-American for the Gophers and is the Big Ten's all-time leader with 2,379 kills. She led the Gophers in kills in each of her four years at Minnesota and was named to three all-Big Ten teams. Fair spent the last two years at Minnesota, leading the team in blocks and setting a school record for total blocks in a season in 1999. She was named to the all-NCAA regional team in Hawaii last December.
"Making the USA National Team has been a dream for both of these players. There is nothing greater in sport than being able to live your dream," said Minnesota head coach Mike Hebert. "I know that both will proudly carry the Minnesota torch as they make their way through the international volleyball community. This can only help our program gain in notoriety."
Branagh was named to her second All-America team earlier this month, being tabbed as a second-team selection by Volleyball Magazine. Stephanie Hagen and Lindsey Berg, both returning to Minnesota as seniors in 2001, were named honorable mention All-Americans by the publication.