COLUMBIA — The call rings out through the Arena at Southwell Complex:
“I love you Vesna!” a fan shouts.
Vesna is Vesna Trivunovic, and only 11 matches into her career with the Columbia College volleyball team, she has quickly become a fan favorite. With her scorching serves and powerful kills, the junior outside hitter is impressing opponents and supporters alike.
Trivunovic has received several accolades in her short career with the Cougars. She was named the American Midwest Conference Player of the Week last week and has made the All-Tournament team at the Cougars’ past two tournaments.
“At her junior college, she got a lot of awards, so I think she’s used to getting awards,” Cougars coach Melinda Wrye-Washington said. “She plays at a high level.”
If Trivunovic’s recent play is any indication, the awards will continue to pile up as the season continues. She has been a standout player on a team that figures to stay in the top 10 of the NAIA poll for the entire season.
“She can turn it up on the court and play hard,” Wrye-Washington said. “The tougher matches seem to be the matches that she really excels and plays well.”
Wrye-Washington said a specific kill at the Graceland Tournament last weekend stands out to her. Trivunovic jumped high and deposited the ball over a block into the center of the court.
“She made a statement that said ‘I’m tired of playing. It’s time to get this game over with.’” Wrye-Washington said. “I haven’t seen too many swings like that, and I’ve coached a lot of players.”
Trivunovic, who was born in Serbia, has lived in the United States for three years. She played her first two seasons at Lake Land Community College in Mattoon, Ill., then made her way to Columbia College after a recruiting visit early this year.
Trivunovic is fitting in nicely at Columbia College. Being a foreign player on the Cougars is not unusual. Seven of the 15 players on the team were born outside the United States. Wrye Washington said Trivunovic's fiery personality fits in well with the team. The success helps, too.
“It is way better here,” Trivunovic said. “This team is way more competitive.”
If there is anything that Trivunovic lacks, it is probably the ability to be satisfied with her performance on the court. Despite dominating at every stop in her volleyball career, she still sees areas where she can improve.
“I’m never satisfied with my playing,” Trivunovic said. “I always think I can do better. Even if we win, I’m still upset because I think I didn’t do good.”
While it is hard to say that her offensive game is anything but outstanding, both Trivunovic and Wrye-Washington agree that her defense and passing have room for improvement if she wants to achieve her goal of becoming a professional player in Europe.
But for now, the strong right hand of the 6-foot Serbian is dominant enough to stand out among the other NAIA players.
Not one to brag, Trivunovic struggles when asked how to describe her game. Then four words say it all.
“I play with heart.”