Volleyball team lands Serbian trio

Volleyball team lands Serbian trio

Stanka (pronounced STAH-sha) Panic, left, and Milica Nisavic signed their letters of intent to Eastern Washington University.  Photo courtesy of Milica Nisavic
Stanka (pronounced STAH-sha) Panic, left, and Milica Nisavic signed their letters of intent to Eastern Washington University.
Photo courtesy of Milica Nisavic

By Peter Sowards


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By way of Serbia to Wyoming, the Eagles volleyball team upgraded its roster with a heavy dosage of international talent.

Stanka Panic, Milica Nisavic and Sofija Ivanovic signed letters of intent and will become the first players recruited to EWU since Wade Benson’s return as head coach. “This recruiting class was a late recruiting class for us because we were coming in as a new staff in January,” Benson said. “We feel that with our time allotment we hit a home run with these recruits. We went the junior-college route for one of the first times [in my career].”

Nisavic, a junior from Novi Sad, Serbia, has played volleyball since she was eight years old. She tried her hand at basketball, but volleyball was her true calling.

“I am a setter, and I have played that position all my life,” Nisavic said. “On the other side, I am a bad hitter, but I really can pass the ball very well. What I like about myself as a volleyball player is that I am mentally strong.”

Benson likes Nisavic’s versatility and knowledge of the game. “Milica [Nisavic] locates the ball very well, and she understands tempo,” Benson said. “We think she is going to run a very fast offense for us. She is also a surprisingly good blocker in the front row.”

Nisavic came to the United States two years ago to play volleyball at Casper College in Wyoming. There she played with Stanka Panic, who earned All-American honors as a sophomore and also transferred to EWU. “Stanka [Panic] is a very consistent player,” Nisavic said. “What I most appreciate about her is her responsibility, passion and the fact that she is a really hard worker on the volleyball court.

“It is really exciting for me. Stanka [Panic] is my lifelong friend, and I am happy we can play together for two more years. On the other side, I [haven’t known] Sofija [Ivanovic] very long, but I am excited for three Serbians on our team next year.”

Nisavic and Panic each graduated from Svetozar Markovic High School and have played volleyball together for five years. “Stanka [Panic] is an undersized outside hitter,” Benson said. “But she has a lot of pop to her attack. She brings the ability to move the ball around well, and she is a superior ball-control player.

“Whether she plays front row or back row for us will be determined in the fall, but I would not bet against her winning a front row position.”

Ivanovic, born in Belgrade, Serbia, also played junior-college volleyball in Wyoming. She earned National Junior College Athletic Association All-Region honors at Laramie Community College as a freshman and a sophomore and she was coached at Laramie by current associate head coach Darren Buckner.

In high school, Ivanovic played for the Serbian national team, finishing second in Europe in her age group. “Sofija [Ivanovic] is a strong outside hitter who can also play on the right side,” Benson said. “She is a five-tool player, meaning she can play all the way around for us. I think she is going to add some great experience for us having played internationally.”

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