Profile: Aleksandar Antanasijević
Many have compared him to the legendary "King Ivan" (Ivan Miljković). Despite not starting during the 2011 World Championships, this player was grateful that he had the opportunity to play with the great Ivan Miljković. After winning the gold in 2011, Ivan Miljković retired from the national team and there was a new king on the throne: Aleksandar “Aleks” Antanasijević. He is Serbia's main wing-spiker and a got-to player during the critical situations. Serbia has never won the World League tournament and as captain of the Serbian team, Antanasijević is hungry for a medal.
Aleksandar Atanasijević was born in Belgrade, Serbia in 1991. Growing up, Aleks played a variety of sports including handball and basketball. His father, who played for Red Star, tried convincing him to try volleyball, but Aleks did not want to try this family sport. Then, his local club OK Partizan sent recruiters to find future talents at his school. Aleks was chosen by the recruiters, turned his attention to volleyball and hasn't looked back since. He first started playing for OK Partizan, where he led his team to a gold medal in the Serbian League. After that, Aleks travelled to Poland to play for PGE Skra Bełchatów. With Skra, Aleksandar won gold medal in the Polish Cup and Super Cup. Additionally with Skra, Aleks won a silver medal in the Polish Championships, Club World Championships, and CEV Champions League.
Two years in Poland was enough for Aleks, so he then decided to go to Italy and play for Sir Safety Perugia. This team was nicknamed the "Serbian Team" because there were six Serbians on the team (Slobodan Kovač, Mihajlo Mitić, Alexandar Atanasijević, Goran Vujević, Nemanja Petrić, and Konstantin Cupković). In Italy, Aleks had a very good season. In the regular season, Perugia finished third in the rankings. Even though the team did not achieve a first place finish in the regular season, Aleks was awarded the Most Valuable Player in the Serie A1 regular season. He was only 21 when he won this award, making him one of the youngest to ever win this award. After the regular season, the top teams moved into the Playoff Phase. Perugia faced the first ranked team, Lube Macerata, in the Championship match. Perugia fought a tough battle against Macerata but ended up losing three matches to one (3-2, 2-3, 3-0, 3-1).
On the national team side, Aleks started off by playing for the Serbian Youth National team. He got second place in the European Championship, losing to France in the final. Next, he was invited to play in the University Games. One of the most memorable events for Aleks was when he won the Youth World Championship with Serbia in 2009. After winning 3-2 to Iran, the whole Serbian Youth Team began celebrating and crying of happiness. This moment was his favorite in the whole tournament. This was the first gold medal ever achieved by the Serbian Youth Team. What made the World Championships even better for Aleks was that he received the MVP award. Two years later, in 2011, Aleks played for the Junior National team. With the Junior Team, he achieved bronze in both the European Championship and the World Championship. Aleks was awarded the Best Spiker award. Last year, Aleks participated in the U23 World Championships, where the team got a silver medal losing to Brazil. Similar to the previous years, Aleks still managed to win an award, and this time he was awarded the Best opposite Spiker. Now in 2014, Aleks and the Serbian National Team are playing in the World League Tournament. Serbia is in Pool B, along with Russia, Bulgaria, and the United States.
In this year's World League, Serbia first played at home, against Russia in the city of Niš. Aleksandar and the team managed to beat the reigning gold-medalists 3-1 and 3-2. After these two significant victories, the team traveled to Sofia to take on Bulgaria. Serbia easily won the first match 3-0. They squeezed out a victory during the second match, winning 3-2. This past weekend, Serbia played in Chicago and lost 3-0 and 3-2 to the United States. Watch the replay of USA vs. Serbia here. Be sure to watch Aleksandar and the team battle in the second half of World League, you will not be disappointed.