Sochi, Russia, September 10, 2015 – Milena Matic and Marija Milosevic were all smiles at the FIVB World Tour Sochi Open on Thursday. The Serbian girls are the first team to represent their country on the Beach Volleyball World Tour and to top it off they also made it to the first elimination round with a 2-1 (21-16, 18-21, 15-8) win over Czech team Martina Jakubsova and Diana Zolnercikova.
“That was our first FIVB victory and this is also the first time we play in an FIVB Open”, the 23-year old Matic said. “So we are very happy we can play one more match and hopefully we will win that one too.”
Milosevic (29): “This is the first year we are playing together and the first time for Serbia to put a team out to represent our country in the FIVB. We are very happy and glad that we can do that.”
The two girls used to play indoor, Milosevic even played college volleyball in the USA, but they came together this season to fully commit to the sand.
“We have only been playing three months together”, Milosevic said. “This is the very first year for both of us, the first year that we are totally committed to beach volleyball. We first came out on the sand in April and we just hope we can continue this in the winter, work hard and come back stronger next season.”
For now they hope to gain as much experience as possible in Sochi. Matic: “After our own matches we stay to watch the other ones. And we had tough matches ourselves with good teams. For us that is a really big experience and I think playing these matches we will progress much faster than when we play some lower quality matches. So this is really good for us.”
Before coming to Sochi the Serbian girls played the CEV Satellite in Vaduz (13th) and the Masters in Biel (17th), but winning the gold medal in the Mediterranean Sand Games last weekend gave them a big boost.
Milosevic: “It was in Italy and we won in the final against Giombini and Toti. Our first big win and we are very happy about that.”
Matic and Milosevic are pleased with their performance in Sochi as well. They lost their first two games to Finland’s Riikka Lehtonen and Taru Lathi (21-12, 21-9) and Russia’s Ekaterina Syrtseva and Yulia Abalakina (13-21, 21-19, 15-12), but won the final pool play match.
“I think we came out a little bit nervous, because it was our first time”, said Milosevic. “But all our matches, besides the one against Finland, went to three. This is a very good experience for us, we are kind of glad it happened that way and very happy to come out of the group and we are looking forward to continue playing.”
The Serbian debutants already have big future goals. Milosevic: “We started too late for Rio, but our goal is definitely to play as much as possible on the World Tour and the European Championships too, but we have one big goal and that is to make it to the Olympics in Tokyo.”
Matic is pleased with the support they have had so far from the federation. “We have really good indoor teams, but now our federation is really interested in winning some medals in beach volleyball too. So I hope from now, since we made some good results this year, there will be more interest and that we will have much better conditions for next year to travel to more tournaments.”
Because in Serbia there are no serious competitors to train with nor high-level events to compete in. Milosevic: “There is the Serbian championship, but there is really no competition for us anymore. We definitely need to get out and play and watch teams like here. Because we believe we can do this.”