"They are a decent team."

That’s Florida A&M’s view of JSU’s volleyball team- regular season and OVC tournament champs. Here is tallahassee.com’s article on the upcoming NCAA tournament bracket involving FSU, A&M and JSU.

NCAA brackets were being announced, Florida A&M volleyball coach Tony Trifonov stood amazed. He was a little taken aback by the fact the University of Florida was in a bracket without the Rattlers.

“Wow,” he said, staring at the television inside The Moon where the team watches the announcements. “We’re not going to Florida.”

No. And actually FAMU isn’t going anywhere farther than across town for their ninth consecutive appearance in the tournament. FSU will also will stay home. Both teams, along with Alabama A&M and Jacksonville State will play at Tully Gym for the first-round matches beginning Saturday.

The Seminoles are the top seed here and No. 3 overall in the tournament, following their remarkable ACC championship season. FSU (28-2) is making its first tournament appearance since 2002.

“I think getting the opportunity to host the opening rounds is going to give us a little bit of comfort initially,” said FSU coach Chris Poole. “We don’t have to go out on the road first so it’s going to give our players a chance to get the butterflies out and go out play.”

FAMU (17-9) faces Jacksonville State (26-7) in the first match at 2 p.m. FSU and Alabama A&M (18-10) meet at 5 p.m. with both winners moving on to play Sunday at a time to be determined. The winner will advance to Minneapolis for that regional.

Within a few hours after finding out their opponent, FAMU was on the practice court. It has lost both of its previous games against the Gamecocks, but this will be the two teams’ first matchup in the NCAA Tournament.

“They’re a decent team,” Trifonov said. “They’ve had some success in recent years but they’ve not been ranked in the Top 25. We are a little bit surprised that we didn’t get one of the top teams in the country, which has been the case in the last three or four years.”

Since hosting a first round in 2004, FAMU has opened postseason play against the Gators four times in the past nine years.

As many trips as they’ve made to the tournament, FAMU’s only first-round win came in 2003 over Winthrop. FAMU, however, likes its chances going early against a Division I-AA team such as Jacksonville State.

“You’ve got to put your mind to it,” said middle hitter Chelsea Pennick.” We just have to step up to the plate.

“We have not gotten past the first round the past couple years that I’ve been here. Now that we’ve got the opportunity, we’ve got to get mentally prepared. We can’t get big a head about anything.”

Indeed, overconfidence is a concern, especially with the comfort of playing with the advantage of being at home.

“We need to focus because we want this,” said senior outside hitter Maria Gomez. “We want this really bad. The only thing we could do is keep practicing hard and when we get out there just play our game.

“We’re going to go for it. We are actually going to try to do our best.”
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