Serbian world champions welcomed by huge crowd in Belgrade

MVP Tijana Boskovic and her teammates met by their fans as they return home

Serbia's players and coaching staff were welcomed home after securing a second consecutive FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship title on Saturday.

The team had a celebratory flight back home, with cake and champagne served, and met their families and friends at Belgrade airport. Later on Sunday, it was time to reunite with their fans at City Hall, with a huge crowd welcoming the world champions home.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve been doing over the last few years,” said team captain and star opposite Tijana Boskovic, the World Championship MVP. “It’s not easy to win a second-straight world title. All these girls are heroes, they’ve put in so much work for the last five months. We played for each other and I’m certain we really deserved it. We love coming here and meeting our fans after our victories and I’m very confident we’ll be able to do it again next year.”

World Championship MVP Boskovc during the celebrations in Belgrade

The celebration at Belgrade’s City Hall has become a tradition for the team after important results. It has been repeated quite a few times over the last six years with world titles in 2018 and 2022, two Olympic medals (silver in Rio 2016 and bronze in Tokyo 2020), two European titles (2017, 2019) and a bronze medal at the VNL (2022) in the period.

“This is an incredible result and our generation has achieved so much,” said outside hitter Bianka Buka. “Defending a world title is really difficult and we did it without a single loss. There were some tough matches, but we never stopped believing and fighting for it.”

The Serbian campaign in the Netherlands and Poland was truly impressive and the team coached by Daniele Santarelli dropped just five sets in their campaign.

“We dominated the tournament since the start,” middle blocker Jovana Stevanovic reflected. “We kept our feet on the ground the entire time, but the results showed we were the best team. We had a great team atmosphere and forced our opponents to work really hard to score on us. We have Boskovic, the best player in the world, but this was for sure a team win, everyone contributed to it.”

Although they have a new coach in 2022, the Serbian victory also represented continuity in the country’s winning system, which should keep the Europeans among the best in the world for years to come. While nine of the 2022 world champions were also part of the team’s squad in 2018, five players won the tournament for the first time while also bringing new energy to the team.

“This is my first major tournament and to start it with a gold medal is incredible,” said outside hitter Sara Lozo, one of the new faces on the team. “Our preparation was excellent, we took great care of every little detail. In the final, we did our best to not give Brazil a chance. We never got worried or looked at the score, we just kept playing one point at a time and going forward.”