Pusic, Drca and Stevanovic (left to right) celebrate at the 2018 World Championship

Pusic, Drca and Stevanovic (left to right) celebrate at the 2018 World Championship

Several players from Serbia’s 2018 FIVB Volleyball World Championship gold medal squad are back on the roster for the upcoming 2022 Volleyball Nations League, after missing some of the team’s most recent competitions. The long list of 30 athletes, recently announced by Serbia’s new head coach Daniele Santarelli, also contains the names of seven Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medallists.

34-year-old setter Bojana Drca, formerly known by her maiden name Zivkovic, and 29-year-old middle blocker Jovana Stevanovic return to the national team after a three-season absence. The last time they played for Serbia was at the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship in 2018. Both players were also Olympic silver medallists at Rio 2016 and European champions in 2017.

2018 world champ Teodora Pusic, a 29-year-old libero, whose most recent appearance with the national team dates back to the 2019 CEV European Championship, when Serbia claimed the title, has also received a call from the Italian coach.

Brankica Mihajlovic in action

Brankica Mihajlovic in action

Santarelli’s list also includes the names of 31-year-old outside hitter Brankica Mihajlovic and 24-year-old middle Maja Aleksic. They both contributed to the 2018 world title, the 2019 continental title and last year’s Olympic bronze, but skipped the team’s most recent competition, EuroVolley 2021 at home in Belgrade, when Serbia took the silver.

The 2022 VNL line-up includes five more members of Serbia’s Tokyo 2020 squad, who also played at the subsequent European Championship. They are Bojana Milenkovic, Mina Popovic, Sladjana Mirkovic and 2018 world champions Ana Bjelica and Bianka Busa, while 33-year-old outside Jelena Blagojevic has now joined Santarelli’s staff as an assistant coach.


Mina Popovic on the block against USA at Tokyo 2020

There are also some important absences from the list. Other than retired middle Milena Rasic, Maja Ognjenovic, Silvija Popovic, Stefana Veljkovic and Tijana Boskovic will skip the VNL but in all likelihood will reunite with their teammates for the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship in the Netherlands and Poland later in the year.

During the first week of the VNL, from May 31 through to June 5, Serbia will play in Ankara. Two weeks later, from June 14 through 19, they will participate in the tournament held in Brasilia. In week three, from June 28 through July 3, Santarelli’s team will compete in Calgary, Canada.

Serbia women’s national team full roster:

Setters: Ana Jaksic, Bojana Drca, Mila Djordjevic, Rada Perovic, Sladjana Mirkovic

Opposites: Ana Bjelica, Jovana Zelenovic, Sara Caric, Vanja Savic

Outside hitters: Aleksandra Uzelac, Bianka Busa, Bojana Milenkovic, Brankica Mihajlovic, Jovana Cvetkovic, Jovana Mirosavljevic, Katarina Lazovic, Mina Mijatovic, Sara Klisura, Sara Lozo

Middle blockers: Bozica Markovic, Hena Kurtagic, Jelena Delic, Jovana Kocic, Jovana Stevanovic, Maja Aleksic, Mina Popovic

Liberos: Bojana Gocanin, Sanja Djurdjevic, Teodora Pusic, Tijana Milojevic