Bran earns third career Player of the Week Award
April 6, 2011
University of Montana senior Rebecca Bran was named Big Sky Player of the Week for matches played through Tuesday, April 5 according to the league office Wednesday. Bran, who garnered her second honor this year and the third of her career, took dominant singles and doubles victories at No. 1 vs. Montana State Tuesday evening.
In the Grizzly-Bobcat match up, Bran combined early on with fellow senior Whitney Paluch, striking an 8-1 move at No. 1 doubles over `Cats Char Hjalmarsson and Paulina Lopez. The win for Regional No. 10 Bran and Paluch was the 17th of the year for the combo, which holds a 4-1 Big Sky mark.
In singles action, Bran topped Hjalmarsson 6-1, 7-5 in the 6-1 UM team win over the UM in-state rival. Bran's victory over Hjalmarsson was her ninth of the season and her Big Sky record is 4-1 as well.
Wednesday, Bran responded to the league announcement, saying, "I'm a little shocked, really, but also excited. Coming off such a tough schedule, where the team played some really hard teams, it was very important to refocus. I was able to isolate a few things to put some extra work into over the past week, like my depth and placement when serving and it worked out for me during Cat-Griz. Because of that work, I was able to have better shots through both of my matches."
UM coach Steve Ascher remarked upon the improvement that the Melbourne, Aus. native has shown over the last year saying, "The real step for this athletic player has been mental. Last year, Rebecca would get into those difficult situations and fight herself. She would place so much pressure on herself, it was overwhelming. Now, Rebecca is extremely calm in competition. It allows her to really compete with her opponent, rather than struggling with herself."
In Bran's Tuesday match vs. Hjalmarsson, the Bobcat rallied back in the second set, leading 5-4 at one time. Bran said, "She was absolutely ripping her forehand and I had grown a little too comfortable. I had to think back to what I had done well in the beginning of the match."
Embracing that first set strategy, Bran was able to come back for the 7-5 win, taking the straight-set victory over a very competitive Big Sky athlete.
Ascher said, "This award is great for Rebecca, who is a deserving member of a team that has earned such recognition. I'd like to think that the Big Sky was looking to honor someone from a team like ours, an honor which goes past the individual accomplishment."
Bran echoed the third-year coach, saying, "There was definitely a lot of positive team energy put out there by everyone during the match. Every player knew what to do, had a plan, and executed perfectly. We intended to straight-up trample MSU, and it worked out."
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