Serbia returns to the FIVB's Volleyball Nations League as a stronger contender than the team that wound up fifth at the tournament’s inaugural edition last year.
Since then Serbia climbed two places up to become the world’s number one team and went on to win the 2018 World Championship.
Can the Serbians clinch the gold at FIVB VNL 2019 as well?
2018 FIVB VNL record & stats
Win/loss: 12 / 3
Sets win/loss/ratio: 41 / 15 / 2.733
Points win/loss/ratio: 1324 / 1141 / 1.160
Final position: 5th
What’s new for Serbia in FIVB VNL 2019?
This Serbian women’s team holds both the World Championship and European titles as well as a silver medal from the Rio Olympics.
It’s a golden-era for this relatively young squad and it’s likely the roster’s core will stay intact. Although it wouldn’t be surprising at all for coach Zoran Terzić to break in some younger players here and there.
We’ll have to wait and see.
Serbia world ranking: 1 (October 2018)
Serbia FIVB VNL 2019 match schedule
May 21 at 1 PM CT – Serbia v Netherlands
May 22 at 10 AM CT – Serbia v Korea
May 23 at 1 PM CT – Turkey v Serbia
May 28 at 10 AM CT – USA v Serbia
May 29 at 10 AM CT – Serbia v Dominican Republic
May 30 at 1 PM CT – Serbia v Italy
June 4 at 10:15 AM CT – Serbia v Poland
June 5 at 10:15 AM CT – Russia v Serbia
June 6 at 1:15 PM CT – Belgium v Serbia
June 11 at 1:40 AM CT – Serbia v Thailand
June 12 at 5:10 AM CT – Japan v Serbia
June 13 at 1:40 AM CT – Brazil v Serbia
June 18 at 3 AM CT – Bulgaria v Serbia June 19 at 3 AM CT – Serbia v Germany June 20 at 6:30 AM CT – China v Serbia
Serbia games to watch out for in FIVB VNL 2019
No doubt Serbia’s biggest matches will be against its world-class rivals. Bookmark Serbia vs Italy for a rematch of the World Championship final and a replay of the Rio 2016 Olympic final as they meet China in their final game of the preliminary rounds.
Matches against USA, the Netherlands and Brazil should also prove interesting as well considering Serbia couldn’t get past those countries in pool play of last year’s FIVB VNL.
Serbia preliminary roster
Head coach: Zoran Terzić
Setters: Maja Ognjenovic, Emilija Antanasijevic, Sladjana Mirkovic, Mila Djordjevic, Aleksandra Cirovic
Liberos: Teodora Pusic, Aleksandra Tadic, Marija Popovic, Bojana Gocanin
Middle Blockers: Mina Popovic, Maja Savic, Stefana Veljkovic, Maja Aleksic, Jovana Stevanovic, Jovana Kocic, Sra Vucicevic
Wing Spikers (Outside & Opposite Hitters): Bianca Busa, Katarina Lazovic, Sara Caric, Katarina Jovic, Brankica Mihajlovic, Ana Bjelica, Tinjana Boskovic, Bojana Milenkovic, Jelena Blagojevic, Sara Lozo, Milica Tasic, Mina Mijatovic, Anna Pejicic, Milica Kubura
Average age: 23.3 (11th oldest)
Average height: 184.9cm (7th tallest)
Serbia players to watch in FIVB VNL 2019: Tijana Bošković, Milena Rašić, Stefana Veljković, Maja Ognjenović
In Tijana Bošković Serbia have a true superstar of the game. The 22-year-old opposite spiker has cemented her role as Serbia’s chief point scorer. She deservedly won the Most Valuable Player award at the 2018 World Championship after topping all players with 176 spikes.
She was only 18 when she joined the national team but has since garnered a lot of success. She’s the best player on this team and the good news is she’s still very young, so Serbia can expect more success in the coming years.
Milena Rašić, 28, is a more experienced middle blocker considered one of the best in the world. She was named one of the Best Middle Blockers at the World Championship. She’s joined by another world-class middle blocker in Stefana Veljković.
Setter Maja Ognjenović, 34, is also worth watching closely as she’s among the world’s best setters. She’s got that uncanny ability to find her spikers wherever they are on the court.
The bottom line: Can the World Champion top FIVB VNL too?
Serbia ended up with subpar result at last year’s FIVB VNL despite initially winning 12 games and coming in second to USA in the initial rankings.
The team performed poorly in the final round, missing out on the final four after losses to USA and Turkey. But the squad picked up the pace later in the year in time to win it all at the World Championship. They also rose to the top of the FIVB world ranking, making them a strong contender not just for FIVB VNL 2019 but also for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Serbia is a very talented, well-rounded team with a good mixture of youth and experience. The squad’s top players often play abroad during the club season and then return home armed with a higher standard of play that trickles down to the rest of the team.
The expectations are far greater now for Serbia given recent success. Can the World Champion top FIVB VNL as well?
What is a realistic FIVB VNL projection for the Serbia women’s team?
Serbia is considered the best in the world right now with good reason, so it wouldn’t be surprising if this team stood at the podium when all is said and done.
Then again Serbia didn’t quite deliver at last year’s tournament so there will always be a possibility it could go sideways.
How to watch Serbia in FIVB VNL 2019
Watch the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Nations League in its entirety LIVE on FloVolleyball.