Serbian all-world opposite Tijana Boskovic has returned to the Serbian team and will be available to play in the 3rd round of the 2018 FIVB Women’s Volleyball World Championship tournament that begins on Sunday in Nagoya, Japan.
Boskovic, one-half of the country’s two-headed offensive monster, missed the team’s last 2 matches of the 2nd round (where Serbia had already clinched) with an abdominal injury. By the time she plays Sunday, though, she will have had 6 days off since her last match on October 8th.
“We will play with a full team and Tijana Boskovic is training today,” Serbian coach Zoran Terzic said on Saturday. The team is also expected to have the full services of the other half of the aforementioned duo, outside hitter Brankica Mihajlovic, who played through some pain in her surgically-repaired knee at the end of the 2nd round.
The team will still be down to 13 players, as outside hitter Bojana Milenkovic is done at Worlds after a knee injury and has returned home to Serbia. She had become a primary offensive piece off the bench for the team. The expectation is that she’ll be off the court for 6 months.
The team looked unbeatable in their first 7 matches (and truly, they were, not dropping a set). Once they clinched advancement, however, they lost 2 straight and couldn’t win their group (which meant they couldn’t avoid the hot-handed Italy in the 3rd round). That included a 3-1 loss to Japan without Boskovic, which if repeated would be disastrous for the team’s chance at advancement.
Terzic said that he’s not concerned about a lack of form, though. Instead, he said it was a lack of motivation that has plagued his team in the last 2 matches.
“I do not think we had a real crisis, in that sense we fell in shape, but simply, which is also very bad, the motivation was not at the level on which it was until we secured advancement to the Final 6,” Terzic said. “I expect a much more motivated team than in the previous match against Japan.”
Serbia, ranked #3 in the world, plays in Pool G against Japan and Italy, with the top 2 teams advancing to the semi-finals. They open the round on Sunday against the hosts Japan at 19:20 Tokyo time, 12:20 Serbia time, 6:20 US Eastern Time.