Former Golden Gopher standout Nicole Branagh was named the USA Today Olympic Athlete of the Week for the week of May 26-June 1. Branagh received the honors after being named Most Outstanding Player of the FIVB Beach Volleyball Tournament in Barcelona, Spain.
Branagh and her partner Elaine Youngs won five straight matches to win the tournament, after losing their first match in the opening round. Branagh and Youngs defeated Talita Antunes and Renata Ribeiro from Brazil by scores of 21-18 and 21-14 to win the event. Branagh also had seven of the eighth fastest serves during the event.
With the tournament victory, the team of Branagh and Youngs are ranked sixth in the word with 4,120 points in a system that tracks their eight best international finishes since May 2007. FIVB will qualify the top two teams from each country for the Olympics in Beijing. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh are ranked No. 1 in the world, while Branagh and Youngs are currently second in points among U.S. teams.
Branagh was a four-year letterwinner at Minnesota. She holds the career-record for kills with 2,379, and had three of the top seven single-season kill totals (679 in 1999, 643 in 2000, 579 in 1998) in school history.