Brauneis to play pro volleyball in Puerto Rico

The timing of being presented with a new opportunity wasn't exactly what Taylor Brauneis had in mind.

A day after the former Prairie Ridge volleyball standout's University of Florida playing career ended in the NCAA Tournament, Brauneis was approached about playing professionally in Puerto Rico. For years, Brauneis had considered playing at the next level, but never expected everything to fall into place so quickly.

But she's certainly not passing up the chance.

Brauneis recently signed a contract to play the upcoming four-month season for Lancheras de Catano. She will leave on Saturday for San Juan to begin her pro career and will practice for the first time with her new teammates on Saturday night. As of now, Brauneis is the only American on her team's roster, giving her the chance to learn what she's expecting to be a different style of play than she experienced in college.

"I think it's a really good opportunity for me," Brauneis said on Friday. "I'm just really excited about it."

Brauneis' college career ended in the second round of the NCAA Tournament when the Gators lost to in-state rival Florida State. She played her final two seasons at Florida after transferring from Louisville. Brauneis finished her senior season with 1,156 assists for the Gators and said she wasn't yet over the disappointment of the Florida State loss when the chance to take another step forward in Puerto Rico came up.

Brauneis is studying event management at Florida and has one semester remaining and will consider her options when she returns to the United States in May.

"It's a four-month season. It's not like going to Europe for a year," Brauneis said. "To me, this just seemed like a chance to see if I like (professional volleyball).

"From there, whatever opportunities I can get from playing in Puerto Rico, we'll see. But right now, I'm just enjoying just playing and see how long I can play for."