Polk State College sophomore Diannmarie Rivera Puerto Rico) gave head volleyball coach German Del Valle a fitting birthday gift Thursday at the Winter Haven Health Center.
The outside hitter and 2011 Suncoast Conference first-team selection, who missed part of the 2012 season with an injury, held the Eagles together on a night when the team was out of rhythm, and had trouble blocking, but came away with a 3-1 victory over visiting Eastern Florida State College (formerly Brevard Community College).
"She wants to have the ball in her hands," said Del Valle, who was surprised by balloons and a birthday cake after the match.
But, Rivera's performance was no surprise.
"She just gave us confidence," he said.
Rivera tallied 18 kills, 17 digs, 20 points and two aces as the Eagles won 24-26, 25-18, 25-20, 25-19.
The bench also came through.
"They took care of business," Del Valle said.
The Eagles (4-1) spent the week working on blocking with a higher net, yet it was their trouble spot against the Titans (3-2) in a non-conference match, along with the speed, or lack of it, in the game.
The pace set by the Titans was slower than the Eagles had seen over the previous weekend in Iowa, where they went 3-1 against several of the top programs in the country.
"We didn't have rythym," Del Valle said. "We had to go back and adjust."
Freshman middle blocker Luaztani Turbi (Dominican Republic) picked the Eagles up as well.
"Three or four times she got a side out at crucial times and she controlled the ball in the net."
Freshman middle blocker Genesis Castillo (Brazil) gave the team a lift as well with her blocking off the bench.
Sophomore Ashley Toth (Edgewater) was steady, recording 56 assists, 12 points, 10 digs and a block.
Ashley Hass (Lyman) scored 14 points, two aces and two kills.
Shatorreia Edgecombe (Dame) pitched in 11 kills, nine points, six digs and a block.
Ana Karine Cavalcante (Brazil) posted 12 kills, eight points and seven digs.
Liz Garcia (Idaho) registered five kills.
The Eagles head to Ocala to take on College of Central Florida Sept. 4.