Volleyball team struggles early, looks for first win

Starting a season on the road may be a challenge for any team. When the teams on the road are top-level competition, the challenge is increased.

The Florida A&M volleyball team will work to regroup after back-to-back 3-0 losses to New Mexico State last week. Head Coach Tony Trifonov, who began his 10th season as coach, and the team looks to achieve another successful season.

“As we get the team together, we will get on the right path,” Trifonov said.

FAMU opened the 2006 season in Alabama at the Troy University Invitational.

Saint Mary’s College defeated FAMU 3-1 at the invitational. “The team has started in losses. However, it is still very early, as the (conference) season has not yet started,” said Alvin Hollins, assistant athletic director for media relations.

The Rattlers will enter conference play as the MEAC favorite. “We have won the championship five years in a row, everyone is going to say we are the favorite in the conference until teams start beating us,” Trifonov said.

At the end of last season, the volleyball team had established themselves as the team to beat.

“The MEAC has made this prediction, from the standards that Coach Trifonov has made,” said Ronnie Johnson, assistant sports information director.

This year the team will look to fill the void left by 2005 MEAC Player of the Year Adriana Kostadinova’s graduation. Kostadinova finished her career with 1,563 kills, second all-time in school history.

Senior setter Diana Genkova and senior middle blocker /outside hitter Maria Andonova, who joined Kostadinova on the 2005 All-MEAC team, return.

“I strongly believe that Coach Trifonov will be able to gel together the team that he builds together to lead the team to another championship season,” Johnson said. The volleyball team has also received a boost in the form of a transfer.

Marrita Royster-Crockett, an outside hitter who played for Florida State last year, was an all-district and all-state athlete at Florida High School.

Fans may not get a chance to see the team in action until later this month.

The home opener is scheduled for Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. against North Carolina A&T. Last season, the Lady Rattlers defeated the Lady Aggies 3-0.

This year, the team looks forward to playing them again, as last year, FAMU was rated number one and NCA&T was number two in the MEAC.

This past season, Trifonov recorded his 200th match win against Long Beach State.

If the success from last season carries over, fans may see the team in the 2006 MEAC volleyball championship game at Hampton University from Nov. 16-18.