Vballrecruiter’s Player of the Week: Olivia Branum

We’re proud to be a part of an ongoing partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods, which is sponsoring our Player of the Week award. We’ll be releasing a featured Vballrecruiter.com Player of the Week, sponsored by Dick’s Sporting Goods, on Tuesdays. Below is this week’s Player of the Week: Olivia Branum.

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A simple invitation changed everything. Olivia Branum was involved in soccer for a long time. She played basketball for a while too. She tried her hand at tennis and tumbling but she didn’t like any of them enough to see herself sticking with any of those sports.

Then around age 10 she attended a volleyball camp with a friend and she really liked it.

“My friend just invited me and said I think we should try this,” Branum said. “I had no idea what it was about. I didn’t think I would like it. I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know anything. By the end of the camp I did learn how to serve the ball over the net. That’s all I could really do.”

It quickly led to private lessons and Branum making the 1s team at her first club tryout. Currently, Branum – now a 5-11, 3-star setter from the Class of 2026 – is part of the OP2 16-1 Elite squad which recently qualified for 16 Open at the Lone Star Classic. OP2 was essentially a victory away from earning its spot two weeks earlier at Show Me, an event OP2 upset highly-ranked Boiler Jrs 16 Gold at on Day 2. However, OP2 lost its first outing on Day 3 in a three-team pool and wound up tied for fifth instead.

Given how difficult the field was going to be at Lone Star, it appeared a golden opportunity had come and gone at Show Me. Yet, that wasn’t the case. OP2 sprung another huge upset on Day 2 in Dallas, upending highly-ranked TAV 16 Black and once more making the gold pools. Based on trickle down, OP2 was assured of a bid before playing its last match of its three-team pool.

“At Show Me, with playing high-level teams, everyone is neck-and-neck,” Branum said. “We are a very competitive team and after that tournament I think we realized how good we are and how far we have come and we still weren’t playing our best. We just couldn’t quite finish it.

“It’s tough coming from Oklahoma. There are not a lot of teams representing at the Open level. We are one of the first teams playing at this level. I wish we were competing at Open since we were a lot younger so we would be more used to it. I think we are doing really well this year. We accomplished our goal of qualifying and I hope we do even better at nationals.”

While Branum has been running a 5-1 in club since her 13s season, her role on her Westmoore high school team is different. There, she sets and hits. This past fall she finished second overall in kills with 202. She missed a bit of time though and actually led the team in kills per set at 2.3. It was the same with setting. Though she finished second with 406 assists, she led the roster with 4.7 per set. She was also second in aces with 51.

“I enjoy getting to hit,” she said. “I like to do it for school ball. I don’t know if it’s something I’d get to do in club ball ever again.”

As our featured Player of the Week sponsored by Dick’s Sporting Goods, we recently spoke with Branum about volleyball and more.

Who is a role model or someone you look up to?

Branum: Outside of volleyball I really look up to my older sister. She is 22 and she is super-driven. She graduated college early. She’s a really, really good role model for life. She helps me with volleyball and my social media. She has her own life and her own job but she still finds time to help me out with things like my videos. She comes to my tournaments and I’m appreciative of that. Inside of volleyball, I look up to college setters like Bergen Reilly or Ella Swindle who were freshmen running 5-1s at huge schools. They work super hard and are great role models.

If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would you do and why?

Branum: I would probably go to the beach. Not that I get to go all the time, but I would go surfing and play beach volleyball.

Do you have a favorite volleyball memory or story to share?

Branum: Anytime we have qualified for nationals it’s been a great experience.

Do you have any volleyball superstitions or rituals and if so what?

Branum: I actually don’t, but my mom she is super superstitious with volleyball. If she is videoing one of my games and we are doing bad she’ll stop. Or if someone leaves for like the restroom and we are playing well while they are gone, she’ll tell them to go back away. She is superstitious but I don’t focus or think about anything like that.

Aside from basic necessities, what is one thing you could not go a day without?

Branum: I can’t go a day without talking or texting my best friends or my family and spending time with them.

What is something that makes you laugh a lot and why?

Branum: I love the show The Office. It makes me laugh a lot. I’ve probably watched it 15 times all the way through. It always makes me laugh and puts me in a good mood.

When not at a tournament, what’s your favorite way to spend a weekend?

Branum: It’s definitely hanging out with my friends and family. I like to sleep in because on tournament weekends I have to get up so early. I like to hang out and have sleepovers. We do have practices on Sunday, so I’m still doing volleyball even when we are not at a tournament.

What is something you wish you had more time to do and why?

Branum: My freshman year I was involved in leadership and StuCo. I was vice president for my class but with my volleyball I was too busy. I wish I had more time to be involved with my school and do community service and stuff like that.

What is one thing that may surprise people about you?

Branum: My older sister is getting married this June and I’m the maid of honor at 16. I have had to do a lot to help like plan a bachelorette party. Most people find that surprising.

If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be and why?

Branum: Out of the country I would probably want to go Greece. The beaches there are great and they are really pretty. Inside the country, I’ve never gone to Hawaii. It’s super beautiful and I like warm places. Hawaii sounds amazing. I would definitely want to go there.

What is something you love learning about and why?

Branum: I love learning about animals and dogs. When I’m older I want to be a vet, so I love learning about anything related to animals.

What’s your favorite number and why?

Branum: My favorite number is number 7. That is my volleyball number. When I was younger I did soccer and I played with girls born in 2007 and 2008. I wanted 7 to be my number and I just stuck with it. It’s been my lucky number since then.

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