Best FAU Player 2005 | Iana Andonova | Sports | South Florida

To be a great collegiate volleyball player, you don't have to be the scion of an Olympic high jumper and a decathlete, nor for that matter must you spend a childhood playing eight hours of tennis daily at a specialized sports school in Eastern Europe -- but it apparently doesn't hurt. You can imagine Coral Springs High School coach Frank Bumbales' initial thought when he discovered Andonova, noticing her now six-foot-one frame in summer school: So very tall... Through an interpreter, he asked the Bulgarian-born teen to play volleyball, and to the enduring good fortune of Coral Springs and subsequently Florida Atlantic, she assented. In her first year at FAU, the middle blocker was named Atlantic Sun Conference freshman of the year; the next season, she was first-team all-conference; last year, the 22-year-old junior was named conference player of the year as she led the squad to a 21-7 record and a conference title -- its best season ever at the Division I level. The nation's volleyball coaches even made her an honorable mention All-America. Which, come to think of it, is probably the dream of most little girls playing tennis in Bulgaria.

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