July 3, 2014
Nicole Branagh was voted into the "M" Club Hall of Fame, but originally planned to be inducted at a later date when she could attend the ceremony. Due to a change in schedule, she can now attend the 2014 induction and will be a part of the 2014 Hall of Fame class. The original class was announced on June 12.
Nicole Branagh, one of Gopher Volleyball’s greatest players, has been named to this year’s class of inductees for the University of Minnesota “M” Club Hall of Fame. Branagh is one of 14 former student-athletes, coaches and administrators that will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during an Oct. 9 ceremony at the DQ Club Room at TCF Bank Stadium.
Branagh began her career at Minnesota in 1997. Following an All-Big Ten Honorable Mention freshman season, she emerged as a star in 1998, when she earned First Team All-Big Ten recognition. In 1999, she was again named First Team All-Big Ten and added an All-America honor to her resume. As a senior in 2000, she earned her third consecutive First Team All-Big Ten selection, becoming the third player in program history to accomplish that feat, as well as her second straight All-America nod. She was also named the Big Ten Player of the Year that season.
Statistically, Branagh was in a class of her own after four seasons at the U. Her 2,379 career kills are the most in school history and, at the time, set a new mark for the entire Big Ten conference. That total was also sixth-best in NCAA history, an accomplishment made even more impressive considering Branagh played fewer games than any of the five women ahead of her on the all-time list. Her career kills total remains among the top 15 in NCAA history.
Branagh continued to build a successful career after her time in college had ended. She represented the United States in beach volleyball in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where she placed fifth with partner Elaine Youngs. The following year, she was named the Association of Volleyball Player’s Most Valuable Player, one of several highlights from playing professional beach volleyball for the past decade.
One of 14 members of this year’s Hall of Fame class, Branagh joins Laura Halldorson, Quincy Lewis, Pat Micheletti, Tanya Schuh, Bernie Zeruhn, Bill Light, Keita Cline, Kari Blank, George Tuck, Frank McCormick, Ken Haycraft, Jim Hill and Bob Hanning. With the addition of 14 new inductees in this year’s class, the “M” Club Hall of Fame now has 320 members representing 27 different varsity sports, as well as coaches and administrators.
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