University to host NCAA volleyball subregional

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-The 22nd-ranked Florida A&M University Lady Rattler Volleyball team will host one of 16 sub-regional rounds of the 2004 NCAA Volleyball Tournament on Friday and Saturday at the Jake Gaither Athletic Center.

This weekend’s action on the FAMU campus will feature three nationally-ranked programs-No. 7 Stanford University, No. 12 University of Florida and No. 22 Florida A&M along with Atlantic Sun Conference champion Jacksonville University.

*Friday, No. 1 Stanford (24-6) takes on No. 4 Jacksonville (15-12) at 5:00 p.m., followed at 7 p.m. by No. 2 Florida (27-4) against host and No. 3 Florida A&M (28-2).

Saturday, the winners of the two Friday matches will vie for a trip to the regional semifinals and final to be played at Green Bay, Wis., Dec. 10 and 11th.

The winner of the Green Bay Regional will advance to the Final Four.

The 2004 Final Four will be hosted by Long Beach State University, Dec. 16 and 18th at Long Beach, California.

Elated, excited and thrilled were the adjectives kicked around Sunday evening as the pairings for this coming weekend’s opening round of the NCAA Division I-A Tournament were announced on ESPN News.

Head coach Tony Trifonov, his staff and team watched the pairings announcement and the group erupted into deafening cheers when the Florida A&M name appeared on the screen.

The Lady Rattlers will be put to the test in this loaded subregion as they are a collective 11-20 all-time against the field of teams in Tallahassee (11-17 vs. JU; 0-2 vs. Florida and 0-1 vs. Stanford).

However, confidence should be high for FAMU, as they are riding the crest of a 27-match regular season win string into this weekend’s play, a run which began September 10 with a stunning 3-1 upset of current No. 1 Nebraska in Lincoln.

Winners of four straight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles and five of the last six crowns, Florida A&M is making its’ four straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

Last season, they knocked off Big South Conference champion Winthrop University, 3-0, for their first-ever NCAA Tournament win and after finally gaining a foothold in the Top 25 Poll, the Lady Rattlers are looking for more this postseason.

Trifonov said Sunday that “our goal this year was to reach the Final Four, and we figured we would play one or more of these teams (Stanford, Florida) to get to Long Beach…We are extremely excited about hosting and especially a subregional where you have three nationally-ranked teams.”