Women’s volleyball defends title

The 2002 Rattlerette volleyball team has begun what looks to be a promising season under the advisement of Head Coach Tanio “Tony” Trifonov and assistants Macarena Ponce Dancuart and Sergio Villar Galup.

The Rattlerettes are preparing for their first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference match tonight against Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach. The Rattlerettes defeated the Wildcats twice last season.

FAMU won three games to one Sept. 23, 2001 in Gaither Gymnasium. This win ended BCC’s four-game winning streak, and brought the Rattlerettes to a 6-0 record, 1-0 in the MEAC. The Rattlerettes dominated the game with 12 blocks and a .317 attack percentage.

FAMU rolled over Bethune-Cookman again Oct. 29 2001 by winning in three straight games. They didn’t even allow the Wildcats to score twenty points in any of the games (30-15, 30-18, 30-17). Intimidating the Wildcats both on and off the court, BCC committed 21 attack errors and seven service mistakes.

Coach Trifonov is entering his sixth season as head coach of the FAMU volleyball team. He was a player in his younger days in Bulgaria, and became a coach at age 21.

He crossed back over to play in the 1988 Summer Olympics, but returned to coaching in 1990.

During Trifonov’s reign at Florida A& M University, he has been named Coach of the Year and led the team to two MEAC Championships.

The team has also made two appearances in the NCAA Tournament as a result of his coaching efforts.

When asked how he felt the team would do tonight, Trifonov replied, “Well, it’s our first conference game and it’s a big rivalry. When you talk about rivalries, records pretty much go out the window. I know their record is not as good, and I don’t think they have as much talent as us, but we need to play our game and not underestimate them.”

Looking back, it’s easy to see who the underdog is when these two teams play each other.

The Wildcats have only won six games, in comparison with the 78 games won by the Rattlerettes.

All matches were in favor of FAMU 26-0.

The Rattlerettes finished 27-3 overall and 14-0 in the MEAC last year. They made their second appearance in the NCAA Tournament, but were eliminated in the first round. With eight returning players to lead the four recruits, success should continue to follow the team.

“We lost two starters, but have four returning: Fiorella Aita Junek, Mariela Portocarrero, Shavonne Newsome, and Anisha Nicholson,” Trifonov said. “The incoming freshman are adjusting well and contributing as expected.”

The Rattlerettes have a stretch of home games coming up, starting Sept. 27 with a match against North Carolina A&T University at 7p.m.

Dominique Drake can be reached at ddidis1@aol.com.