|Fri. Aug 28||Kansas State||Coral Gables, Fla.||5:00 p.m.|
|Sat, Aug 29||University of Miami||Coral Gables, Fla.||12:30 p.m.|
|Sat, Aug 29||Illinois State||Coral Gables, Fla.||5:30 p.m.|
Nebraska had its own international star in Canada’s 6’4” freshman Sarah Pavan. FAMU had to contend with her gigantic leaping ability and “killer” spike that dominated most other teams. FAMU responded by denying her the usual opportunities, double-teaming her at the net and forcing Nebraska to rely on other players. The 4,151 Nebraska fans that filled the coliseum to capacity could only watch in unbelief as 6’2” setter Mariela Portocarrero placed the ball perfectly, defended at the net and scored points on her own when not expected to. It was Teresa Arellano in game 3 that carried FAMU back from a 16-21 deficit with four of seven kills during a 9-3 run. Then there was the streaking service game and spiking of 6’4” Adriana Kostadinova that turned around game four. The most exciting play though was a one hand fisted stab by outside hitter Andreina Ruiz that bent over the net and into an unbelievable spot on Nebraska’s side of the court as if intended. That’s when you knew it was FAMU’s night.I wasn’t there, but as an avid FAMU Rattler fan I contributed to Huskers.com, so I could watch the match over the internet. It could have been marbles for all that mattered, or football, but this was women’s volleyball, a sport not appreciated enough. It’s fast, aggressive, and physical. Some even say that it is also eye appealing. Like basketball, it takes great team play. The “Kill”, better known as the “Spike”, is the most exciting play. If you don’t know volleyball you can equate it to the dunk in basketball. The setter is the team quarterback, much like a point guard, and is depended on to make plenty of assists. The libero is the best defensive player on the team. She’s not expected to contribute much to scoring, but like rebounding she is expected to “dig” out every opponent’s play and get the ball to the setter. In 2004, FAMU had It all, great defensive play, strategic blocking, powerful hitters outside and in the middle, and Hall of Fame type coaching from Bulgarian Tanio Trifonov, who bleeds orange and green.
Talent-wise, FAMU currently has 5 seniors and 1 junior returning to provide the much needed leadership. There are newcomers filling critical positions such as the libero. How quickly they come together as a team will determine the amount of success they have. In 2004, opponents made it a point to highlight the team’s international roster. Today, teams like Florida State have filled their rosters with players from around the world, making it more difficult for Trifonov to recruit top international players. By season’s end you can expect the current team to be one of his best since 2004.