The HeadquartersCorporate ProfileThe OrganisationFIVB Story
Volleyball StoryChronological HighlightsBeach Volleyball OriginsRulesFundamentals
CompetitionsCalendarWorld RankingsOfficial RulesOfficial FormsVolleyball Story
CompetitionsPlayer BiosWorld RankingsRulesFormsBeach Volleyball OriginsRefereeing
Volleyball Cooperation Programme (VCP)Development CentresTechnical e-libraryTechnical Video EvaluationU-VolleyInternational CooperationMini/School VolleyballPark Volley
Contact l RSS RSS Facebook Twitter YouTube l Login

Serbia: A volleyball heavyweight set sights on medals at World Championships

Serbia's women's national team are brimming with confidence after their third place finish at the 2013 World Grand Prix

Lausanne, Switzerland, January 13, 2013 – On Christmas eve in 2013, the Serbian men’s national volleyball team was named its country’s ‘Team of the Year’ – a telling sign of the huge role the sport plays in the Balkan state.

It goes without saying that with this kind of honour comes with a certain responsibility. And Serbia’s men’s and women’s teams were once again able to meet the expectations of their passionate fans by qualifying for the World Championships this year.

6,500 spectators flocked to their home stadium in Nis, with far more watching the action live on the Serbian National Broadcasting Company (RTS), to see their men’s team defeat Portugal to secure their ticket to the final round of the FIVB World Championship from September 3 to 21 in Poland. Prior to this, the hot favourites had also defeated the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia and Slovenia 3-0.

“Sure, we had some pressure in this tournament, but there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to qualify for the World Championship,” said Nikola Kovačević, receiver in Serbia’s men’s team. The team – including its time under the name of Yugoslavia – has now qualified for its fifth straight World Championship since 1998.  Since then, the team has established itself as one of the heavyweights of the international game. Besides Brazil, who have won gold at the last three World Championships, Serbia is the only country to have reached the semi-finals on four successive occasions.

Led by captain Nikola Grbić and rookie Ivan Miljković, the Yugoslav men’s national team reached the finals in Tokyo in 1998, winning their first medal ever at a World Championship – silver behind Italy. At the next two World Championships, in 2002 in Buenos Aires and 2006 in Tokyo, the Yugoslavian team – later to become Serbia and Montenegro – took fourth place. At the 2010 World Championship the Serbs won their second medal and first bronze in the country’s history. They then added another bronze at the 2013 European Championship.

Perfect preparation for the highlight of this season comes once again in the form of the FIVB World League (which starts May 23), in which four-time runner-up Serbia will take on defending champions and Olympic gold medallists Russia, the USA and the consistent Bulgarians in Pool B.

Head coach Igor Kolakovic is reluctant to go so far as to promise another podium finish at the World Championship: “There will be so many good teams at the World Championship, so I cannot promise anything. It will be very interesting to see how it turns out.”

However, Milos Nikić – receiver in the Serbian team – was keen to emphasise the ambitious goals of his team, which includes stars like Aleksandar Atanasijević and Dragan Stanković: “We are always aiming for the podium. I think it will be much easier now, because we are used to playing on the big scene. We didn’t perform well in the qualifying tournament, but it will all work out fine when the time comes.”

Exactly the same applies to the Serbian women’s team. After two clear 3-0 wins against Israel and Estonia, Serbia was defeated 3-2 by the home nation of Azerbaijan in Baku in the final match of the qualifying tournament. The loss did not have any serious consequences for the team whose stars include Jovana Brakočević and Jelena Nikolić, who both play for World Club Champions Vakifbank Istanbul. Serbia received their ticket to the championship after finishing as one of the two second-placed teams with the best score across all pools.


Zoran Terzic, head coach of Serbia’s women’s team said: “Since 2002, we have not missed any of the major world competitions. It would have been a shame if we had not qualified this time. We succeeded and we are happy about that. We didn’t perform well, but we gathered without any time to practice, so that’s quite normal.” And history shows that the Serbs will be more than just dark horses at the FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Italy 2014 which will take place from September 23 to October 12.

After a long break of 28 years, the Serbian women’s team, at the time still playing as Serbia and Montenegro, caused a major shock by winning the bronze medal at the 2006 World Championship in Japan. The “Blue Ladies” then finished eighth at the 2010 World Championship.

Third place at the 2013 FIVB World Grand Prix proved that the Serbs belong among the top teams in the world. The prestigious annual competition between the best international volleyball teams – this time with a record number of 28 teams – will also provide the perfect preparation for the highlight of the 2014 season. Serbia will be up against the other eleven highest-seeded teams – defending champions and world No. 1 Brazil, USA, Japan, China, Russia, Italy, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Korea, Turkey and Thailand – who will play in round-robin tournaments (each with four teams).

“There is plenty of time to prepare for the Championship, and I am sure that we will be ready,” said Terzic.

Chances are that one of the volleyball squads will be named as the best team in Serbia again come the end of 2014.


 Additional links
   Download high-resolution photo
   FIVB home page
   Volleyball home page


Latest headlines