This energetic mentor has piloted FAMU Women's Volleyball into rarified air among the nation's finest court programs.
Tanio "Tony" Trifonov is in his 15th season at the helm of the Florida A&M volleyball program having turned this perennial contender for Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference into the league's most dominant program.
Florida A&M had won nine consecutive MEAC Regular Season and Tournament titles, advancing each season to the NCAA Tournament coming into 2010. An upset loss to Delaware State in the quarterfinals resulted in a halt to the pursuit of 10 in a row.
The Lady Rattlers finished the 2007 campaign by extending the nation's longest conference match win streak in NCAA Division One to 91 straight - dating back to 1998.
That streak ended in 2008 at 95, but an injury-riddled FAMU club still brought home another conference title.
The 2005 (22) and 2006 (21) clubs extended the program's 20-match season win streak to eight (8) straight years.
After the 2009 regular season, the Lady Rattlers had won 72 of their last 76 regular season conference matches by 3-0 scores, having reeling off 43 straight conference shutouts between 2001 and 2005.
But Trifonov's vision for the program extends beyond merely winning the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
His ultimate dream has the Lady Rattlers vaulting into the rarified air of the established elite of collegiate volleyball, a feat they accomplished in 2004, as they finally broke in the AVCA Division One Top 25 Poll in October, soaring to #22 after winning the MEAC Tournament in late November of that year.
In 2004, he guided Florida A&M to a #1 ranking in the NCAA East Region in 2004.
His clubs were rated in the Top 10 in the region in seven of the last 11 years and their 27-4 mark in 2003, included the school's first-ever opening round NCAA Division One Tournament win for an Olympic sports (3-0 vs. Winthrop University at Georgia Tech).
In 2004, FAMU set a new school-record with a 27-match wins streak, which surpassed the 25 straight FAMU won during the 2003 campaign.
In 2004, FAMU began its' 27-match win roll with a 3-1 victory over the second-rank Nebraska the Huskers' last nonconference home loss-continuing their ever improving records against quality foes.
In 2003, FAMU extended nationally-ranked Stanford and Colorado State to five sets before bowing out.
In 2002, FAMU's 23-7 mark featured stunning road win at LSU and against nationally-ranked Louisville in the Georgia Tech Tournament, helping the Lady Rattlers to the cusp of national recognition.
After 13 seasons at FAMU, Trifonov has posted a 270-110 overall record and a sizzling 122-3 conference record.
FAMU has made 10 NCAA Tournament appearances in the past 11 seasons; have won 10 of the last 11 MEAC titles since 1997.
Trifonov has been involved with volleyball for the greater part of his life. He honed his playing skills in his hometown of Sofia, Bulgaria.
As early as 1979, Trifonov was playing on the national level participating on the CSKA-Sofia Junior Clubb tema that won three national championships and the Bulgarian Junior National team.
He continued to develop as a player and moved onto the professional ranks playing with Minyor-Pernik and CSKA-Sofia professional teams.
He crossed over into the coaching ranks at age of 21 and led the Minyor -Pernik Junior team to a national title, and was also an assistant coach for the Academic-Sofia women's professional team that finished in third place at the Bulgarian pro league championship.
Trifonov continued his playing career on the Bulgarian National team that finished sixth in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea.
In 1990, he joined the AVP two-man beach volleyball tour.
Shortly after, he returned to the coaching ranks with a brief stint at the University of South Florida.