Repeat the Feat

Aug. 21, 2005

In his first year as a collegiate head coach, Kevin Paul couldn't have scripted a better end to his 2005 season. After an 0-8 start, the Dolphins finished with a 15-6 run, an 8-2 mark in the Atlantic Sun Conference, while also capturing the program's first conference tournament crown and it's first NCAA Tournament bid in the Division I era. Even with the story book ending, Paul knows his squad needs to prepare even harder to avoid the early pitfalls and repeat the success of 2004.

Despite the loss of libero Kelly Ryals and outside hitter Candice Rose, the Dolphins return the main core which sparked the squad's resurgence at the end of the year.

Leading the way will be First-Team All-Atlantic Sun Conference selection Eva Stoilova, Atlantic Sun Championship Most Valuable Player Lindsay Ward and All-Atlantic Sun Championship honoree Joanna Silva. The additions of junior middle hitter Stevenique Richardson and freshman libero Alyssa Fowles will also provide the Dolphins with one of its most athletic squads in program history.

With a solid core returning and a group of talented newcomers, the pieces are in place for an encore performance.

Outside Hitters Despite the loss of Candice Rose, the Dolphins return three regular starters at the position. Junior Eva Stoilova will be the focal point of the offense after leading the squad with 296 kills (3.08 kpg), en route to her second consecutive A-Sun Conference accolades. Despite playing with an injured right shoulder, the junior also led the Dolphins with 901 attacks while ranking second with 285 digs (2.97 dpg) and 21 service aces.

After a slow start to the year, Joanna Silva made her way into the starting lineup and solidified the Dolphin defense from the back row. In the month of November, the senior posted three double-doubles (kills/digs), four double-digit kill efforts and four double-digit dig matches. During the A-Sun Championship, she tallied a career-high 33 digs against Florida Atlantic on Nov. 19 and her 63 digs in three matches shattered the previous tournament record.

Junior Petya Borisova will also provide experience at the position and is one of the squad's most talented passers. Last season, she was third on the team with 2.54 kills and 2.93 digs per game.

"Eva is the player that can put the ball away for us at most any time,," said Paul. "Peyta really makes our setters job much easier with her passing and Joanna has a great knack for making defensive plays for us on a consistent basis."

Sophomore Katie Hendrian provided a spark off the bench for the Dolphins by playing in 21 matches as a freshman. Despite the lack of playing time, she averaged 1.48 kills, 1.85 digs and 0.52 blocks per game. Freshman Laura Goettsch could also see time at the position during the year.

Middle Hitters Seniors Danielle Neville and Lindsay Ward will anchor the squad's deepest position in 2005.

Ward earned A-Sun Championship MVP honors after leading the Dolphins with 46 kills and a .371 hitting percentage in three matches. She also led the squad with a .287 hitting percentage and ranked second on the squad with 264 kills and 85 blocks.

Neville, who has started every match in her Dolphin career, lead the squad in blocks (104 - 1.05 bpg) and service aces (30) in 2004. She previously earned All-Atlantic Sun honors in 2003 after ranking third in the conference with a .315 hitting percentage.

"Danielle has been one of the top blockers since her arrival and will always give us a chance to win the point, said Paul. "Lindsay has come a long way since emerging as the team leader last season. She has become a great attacker and gives us the balance we need at the net."

Stevenique Richardson, a transfer from Gulf Coast Community College, will look to make an immediate impact in 2005 after earning consecutive First-Team All-Panhandle Conference and Panhandle Conference MVP honors. In two years with the Commodores, she posted 629 kills and 234 blocks to lead the squad.

Freshman Laura Goettsch will also provide depth at the position after leading St. Mary's Catholic High School to three consecutive Thames Valley titles and Western Ontario Finals.

Setter/Libero Youth, talent and experience will be the driving force for the setter and libero positions in 2005.

Senior Erin Donivan will enter the year as the team's starting setter after winning the job at the midpoint of last season. With Donivan directing the offense, the Dolphins finished the season on a 15-6 run and increased their hitting percentage from .173 to .203. Donivan finished the year with career-high totals in assists (842 - 8.8 apg), digs (2.76 - 2.88) and double-doubles (eight).

"Erin has proved she deserves the starting position," Paul said. "The team trusts her because they know she will give 100% to get to every ball. She was our team MVP last year because of her commitment to being a great athlete and I know she will have a great final year for us."

With the transfer of Erin Hickman, freshman Una Dzalba will back up Donivan as the year progresses. Dzalba, who stands 6-foot-3, played for the Junior National Team of Latvia the past two seasons and was named MVP of the National Championship of Latvia.

"Una is going to be the future of our program," said Paul. "She brings tremendous size and experience to our team at the setter position."

One of the major keys to the Dolphins' season will be the play of freshman Alyssa Fowles at libero for the departed Kelly Ryals. Fowles was a three-time All-Tri County Athletic League honoree after leading San Benito High School to a NorCal State Tournament appearance and a Top-50 ranking in the nation in 2002.

"Alyssa is a great player, who has the court saviness of a veteran," said Paul. "She possesses the ball control we need to repeat as A-Sun champions. We are going to be in the libero position for the next four years."