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Bragg bound for Lady Dawg volleyball

Multi-sport star zones in on her volleyball career
With all of the success Ennis High’s Carli Bragg has enjoyed on the volleyball court over the last four years, it’s only appropriate that her playing career will continue at the next level.
This week, the senior signed her letter of intent to play for the Navarro College Lady Dawgs in Corsicana. Navarro coach Wally Brooks came to one of Bragg’s games for the Lady Lions in the fall to talk to her about his program. He also invited Bragg and fellow Lady Lion Ashley Lewis to Corsicana to check out one of the Lady Dawg practices.
Brooks actually wanted Bragg to consider playing volleyball and softball at Navarro, but after three years of playing four sports at St. John, Bragg wishes to zone in on a single sport. She is still currently on the softball field as the leadoff hitter and left fielder for the Lady Lions.
“I was going to just focus on school [in college], but I wanted to stay in shape and I love volleyball,” Bragg said.
“I’m going to see how the year goes at Navarro and then just take it from there.”
An outside hitter throughout high school, Bragg said Brooks would like to make her a libero because of her strong instincts on defense.
“I wasn’t sure about that change at first, but I do love to dive for digs,” she said.
Brooks certainly sounds pleased to have Bragg entering the fold for the 2009 season.
“I am very happy to find a local student-athlete who meant so much to her [high school] team,” Brooks said.
“I believe Carli possesses the mentality and the physical qualities to play at a consistently high level on the college scene as well.”
Bragg thinks she wants to become a physician’s assistant one day, but she’ll focus on getting her basic courses out of the way next year.
“That’s what [EHS athletic trainer Krystal] Cunningham wants to do and I talked to her about it, plus I have a friend who does it,” Bragg said of her career aspirations.
“Homework isn’t my favorite thing in the world, so I’m really going to focus on keeping my grades up at Navarro.”
Bragg plans to make the 20-mile trip back to Ennis often to visit her family next year. Plus, her boyfriend D.J. Betik will be a Lion senior and Bragg wants to catch some of his football games when her schedule allows.

Bragg adapts to
new surroundings
When St. John closed last summer, Bragg’s senior year still lay ahead. Well before the school year started, Bragg was getting better acquainted with Ennis High as she went through preseason workouts with the Lady Lion volleyball team.
“Coming to Ennis High, I was worried that I wouldn’t have a starting spot,” Bragg said.
“I knew [teammates] Morgan [Nichols] and Lauren [Hodges] already, but Ashley [Lewis] and Tina [Anderson] became two of my closest friends also. I never thought I’d have such good friends when I came over here, but that changed really quickly because they were so welcoming. ‘Sisterhood’ was our team motto this season.”
Having to transition from TAPPS 1A to UIL 4A, Bragg met the challenge for the Lady Lions. When it was all said and done, she helped Ennis return to the playoffs for the first time in three years and earned 16-4A First Team All-District honors.
“As far as becoming an all-district player here, I just look at it like working hard pays off in the end,” Bragg said.
“I was really happy about it.”
Wanting to prove herself to her Lady Lion teammates, Bragg said she tried to work harder and harder in each practice to show coach Kim Vernor and the other players that she was willing to do whatever the team needed.
“Coach Vernor was going to change some things [about my game], but she decided since it was my senior year and things were working early on that she wasn’t going to change the way I played,” Bragg said.
“I liked playing for Ennis because the district was so competitive. Beating Midlothian when that had never been done [by our program] was a really big deal.”
As for Vernor, she was thrilled to have Bragg come aboard. In fact, the coach drastically revamped her lineup when Bragg entered the picture as an accomplished outside hitter.
“I wanted to use Ashley and Tina as middle hitters, but that wasn’t an option until Carli came over,” Vernor said.
“It made us stronger in an area that used to be a weakness and Carli still gave us that strong outside hitting. With Tina dealing with an injury early in the season, we would’ve been much further behind without Carli and there’s a possibility we wouldn’t have made the playoffs.”
Taking the perspective of a college coach for a moment, Vernor could certainly see why Bragg drew interest from the Lady Dawgs coach.
“Carli’s versatility makes her valuable to a college team,” Vernor said.
“She doesn’t have ideal height [at 5’7”] for an outside hitter, but has the hops to be successful there. Her ability to read the ball makes her a strong back-row player, plus she’s a good server.”
No coach in any sport has ever complained of Bragg being a problem on or off the court, because she’s all about taking care of business and making a positive contribution.
“Carli always did everything I asked and she meshed very well with our team,” Vernor said.
“She was very encouraging to her teammates and hung out with them away from the court. It was a joy to have her around because you never had to worry about anything. She made this a more special year for everybody involved.”
Bragg’s parents, Keith and Connie, have always been very supportive of her efforts in all sports and it’s no surprise they were at the top of her thank-you list.
“I want to thank my parents and all of my family for their support,” she said.
“[Former St. John volleyball] Coach [Cathy] Oates was definitely a huge help in my improvement as a player. My Ennis teammates motivated me to keep [on] playing and D.J. encouraged me to do what I wanted to do [as an athlete].”
All Bragg has ever known is working hard and laying it all on the line to make every team she played for better. It’s safe to say that approach will be embraced by Lady Dawg volleyball.

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Posted by on Feb 26 2009. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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