Aug. 8, 2005
The Florida State volleyball season starts on Friday – it’s the first day of practice in what promises to be an enthralling campaign that will last more than four months.
Eight returners, two transfers, and two freshmen will hit the volleyball court on Lucy McDaniel Court at Tully Gym Friday to jumpstart the 2005 season and the focus of attention will be on vying for a place at the top of the league and national race. Although practice is just the first stone of a long road ahead, the Seminoles recognize that every moment counts.
For the next four days, Seminoles.com will sit down with head coach Todd Kress to talk about various topics surrounding this year’s squad. Our first order of business is to chat about the season in general terms and then we are on to meet the newcomers:
Outside hitter Kristen Rust (Cincinnati, Ohio/McAuley HS), setter Jessica Skower (Naples, Fla./Naples HS), and libero Summer Weissing (Boca Raton, Fla./Olympic Heights HS) return as starters and join former letterwinners Kim Crawford (Ft. Myers, Fla./Ft. Myres HS), Sarah Griffin (Hereford, Texas/Hereford HS), Andreza Santos (Minas Gerais, Brazil/College of S. Idaho), Lauren Scott (Corona, Calif./Barton County CC), and Lauren Walker (Missouri City, Texas/Hightower HS). Transferring from Garden City Community College is junior setter Zrinka Tomic (Vinkovci, Croatia) and from Long Beach State sophomore Makini Thompson (Quincy, Mass). The final piece of the puzzle is found in two dynamic freshmen, Marrita Royster-Crockett (Tallahassee, Fla./Florida HS) and Gabrielle Rivera (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico/Academica San Jose HS) who are ranked as the 22nd-best recruiting class in the nation according to Volleyball Magazine. With a roster that numbers 12, fourth year head coach Kress will have many options and depth at every position. Kress concludes that the advantage of the depth will be the added competition among the players who are trying to earn starting positions.
According To Kress…
“I’m excited with the team as a whole this year. I think that everyone has really done their part preparing for the season…in fact they have put in a lot of preparation. The athletes did their hard work during the summer and are prepared for when we are ready to go on day one of the preseason. I think that preparation will pay off for a successful year.”
“Last year we were so middle dominated with Amanda Santos and Aisha Carr, so a lot of our offense went their direction and towards them. They were a big part of what made us go last season. This year the majority of our offense, from what I see, will come from our pins out at the antennas. Our left sides and opposites are going to be our strengths with Rust, Santos, Royster-Crockett, and Thompson. I really look for a lot of pop from those four. And for our middles, leading the way are Scott and Rivera. That will be the one position that we are going to need to be able to get some production out of to kind of stabilize our outsides.”
The 2004 recruiting class is quite interesting considering two are transfers (Makini Thompson, Zrinka Tomic) and two are true freshmen (Marrita Royster-Crockett, Gabrielle Rivera). Regardless of their ages, the fact is all four pose a threat considering each has a substantial amount of experience and skill and will compete for starting spots at their respective positions. Something also special about the newcomers is the fact that Royster-Crockett is the daughter of associate head coach Rita Buck-Crockett so the Seminoles mean it literally when they say they are just like family.
According To Kress…
“We have a very interesting group of newcomers. It’s far from a group of just freshmen coming in. We have two transfers and two true freshmen. Makini Thompson transferred from Long Beach State and we are very fortunate to pick her up. If Thompson is healthy she will definitely contribute a lot to our team because I see her only getting better and better as the days go on. Thompson is an unbelievable athlete. She has got a lot of pop, she can hit with a lot of pace, she has a wide range of shots, and she is going to be fun to watch. I really look forward to her staying healthy and helping us out a ton this year.”
“I believe Marrita Royster-Crockett is one of the top incoming freshmen in the entire national class of 2005. She is a great athlete and has the bloodline there with her mom and her father who are both tremendous athletes. She is becoming a student of the game and learning the game. By combining that with her athleticism I think she has a great chance of competing in her first year.”
“Zrinka Tomic (pronounced Za-RINK-ah Tom-MITCH) is from Croatia but has played here in the states the last two years. She is very smart, very intelligent. She is left-handed as a setter so obviously that is a very huge plus for her. We may look at a 6-2 or running a lot of different options because she will allow us to have several different options on offense. Zrinka has great ball-handling skills but can also run a tight offense to help us out.”
“Gabrielle Rivera is currently overseas playing in the junior national world championships. She is playing middle for Puerto Rico this summer. Our long term goal is to move her to the outside or the opposite. This year she is going to play middle blocker for us which is the most comfortable role for her because she has played that her entire life. Gaby could be one of the best players to go through this program. She has a ton of ability and a huge heart, so I think she’ll do great things.”