Serbia will be looking to become the sixth country to successfully defend an FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship title when the 19th edition of the tournament takes place from September 23 to October 15 in the Netherlands and Poland.
Serbia focused on repeat victory at Women's World Championship
The Europeans enter the 19th edition of the tournament chasing another title
Published 10:00, 14 Sep 2022
Currently occupying fifth place in the FIVB Volleyball World Raking, and following their victory in 2018, the Europeans will aim to join the former USSR (1952, 1956, 1960), Japan (1982, 1967), China (1982, 1986), Cuba (1994, 1998) and Russia (2006, 2010) among the nations to have won consecutive editions of the tournament.
Since making it to the top of the world four years ago, the Serbians have consistently been among the best teams in international volleyball, taking bronze at last year’s Tokyo Olympics and at this year’s Volleyball Nations League. They also won gold and silver at the last two editions of the European Championships.
Serbia now have a new head coach in Daniele Santarelli, who was appointed at the start of the 2022 season to replace Zoran Terzic. Nine members of the team that took gold four years ago, however, will return to try to defend their title. They are setter Bojana Drca, opposites Tijana Boskovic and Ana Bjelica, outside hitters Bianka Busa, Brankica Mihajlovic and Bojana Milenkovic, middle blockers Maja Aleksic and Jovana Stevanovic and libero Teodora Pusic.
The Most Valuable Player of the 2018 World Championship, Boskovic is set to feature for the national team for the first time since last year’s European Championship. After an intense club season in Türkiye with Eczacibasi, the 25-year-old star was preserved during this year’s VNL in order to be at the top of her form at the World Championship.
Boskovic, who was the top scorer of last year’s Tokyo Olympics with 192 points, has shown signs that she is ready to lead her teammates at the World Championship. She tallied 25 points in a 3-1 victory against the Netherlands in the first preparation match played by the Serbians, at the end of August.
Besides Boskovic, two other important players have returned to the Serbian national team. One is the 31-year-old Mihajlovic, who appeared in five VNL matches and scored 22 points after missing the entire club season due to multiple injuries.
Middle blocker Stevanovic was another popular player to wear the country’s jersey again during the VNL. The 30-year-old veteran was not called up between 2019 and 2021, but returned in top form, making it on to the tournament’s Dream Team after she scored 126 points.
“We will have a difficult task to defend the title of a world champion,” she said at the time of her return. “But God is with us, so we shouldn’t worry. We have a good selection, good young players and a good head coach who knows volleyball well, so it is up to us to enjoy ourselves and play.”
Serbia will begin the World Championship in Pool C in Arnhem, the Netherlands, where they will take on Canada, Bulgaria, Germany, Kazakhstan and the United States as their first opponents. Their opening match will be against the Canadians, on September 25, at 20.00 local time (18.00 GMT).