Lausanne, Switzerland, February 23, 2018 – Lauren Fendrick and Nicole Branagh’s partnership on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour will only last a short time, but they are aiming to make the most of their time together, starting at the upcoming 5-Star Fort Lauderdale Major.
The US pair are the highest ranked home team at the Florida tournament that runs from February 26-March 4, but it is a temporary pairing while Branagh waits for her regular partner Kerri Walsh Jennings to return from shoulder injury.
It won’t be the first time that they have teamed up. The first came in 2004 on the US-based AVP Tour, they enjoyed a fourth-place finish on the World Tour in Thailand in 2012, and most recently played together at the Qinzhou 3-Star event in October 2017.
“We were both rookies back then (2004), so I think we are both better at just about every possible skill,” Fendrick said in an interview with www.beachmajorseries.com.
“We have some experience playing together in a couple of events over a couple of different seasons. We’ve been so close to medalling and I know we have it in us. So the external goal for us would be to break through this time and medal.”
Both players are among the tallest on the World Tour. Fendrick stands at 1.92m (6ft 3in) and Branagh, 1.86m (6ft 2in).
They also have experience galore with both having played at an Olympic Games; Branagh with Elaine Youngs at Beijing 2008, and Fendrick with Brooke Sweat at Rio de Janeiro 2016.
“We both have years of competition and training at the highest level and we both have an Olympics under our belts,” Fendrick said.
“So I think these experiences make us a very strong, physical team. We both are good offensively and we can be very effective from the service line as well.”
Fendrick started her 2018 World Tour campaign when she teamed up with Karissa Cook at the Dela Beach Open in The Hague in January, and she is enjoying something of an Indian summer having won silver alongside April Ross at the Austria 2017, FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships.
It is the type of experience that she hopes will stand her and Branagh in good stead when the action begins at Fort Lauderdale.
“We both have been in high-stakes pressure situations and competed in a number of environments,” Fendrick said. “I’m expecting a lot of wind in Fort Lauderdale and I think our mental toughness and experience in those types of conditions will come through for us.
“The Beach Major Series puts on such an incredible event. I’m so excited to play our hearts out in front of such an energetic and knowledgeable crowd.”