Maja Aleksic is in her first season playing in Italy’s Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile. The 25-year-old middle blocker arrived at Megabox Ondulati Del Savio Vallefoglia right after she claimed her second FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship title with Serbia. Her recent performances on the court have shown that she has adjusted well to the new club and the new league, while her team have managed to stay in the race for the playoffs, which they have never reached before.
Aleksic helps Vallefoglia pick up speed in Serie A1
The two-time world champion says reaching the playoffs is not just a dream
Pubblicato 09:00, 13 Jan 2023
Vallefoglia will host second-placed Savino Del Bene Scandicci this Sunday, January 15. It will, of course, be a difficult challenge, but if they win the match, it will be the first time this season they claim three victories in a row.
Aleksic was one of the key factors in Vallefoglia’s success in their last two matches and even earned the Most Valuable Player award last weekend when her team managed a five-set away victory at Cuneo Granda S.Bernardo. She impressed with a 60% success rate in attack, four kill blocks and two aces towards a match tally of 15 points, her highest so far as a Vallefoglia player.
“After a match like this I'm proud of the victory,” Aleksic said after receiving the MVP award. “We took two important points towards the standings. I think our serving made the difference.”
After the opening round of the second half of the regular season, Vallefoglia are ninth in the table, on 17 points and a 6-8 win-loss record, just below the cut-off line for the playoffs and a point below eighth-placed e-work Busto Arsizio. It is only the club’s second season in A1. When they joined the Italian elite for the first time last season, they finished in ninth place and just failed to advance to the quarterfinals.
Megabox also closed the first half of the regular season with a home win, sweeping CBF Balducci HR Macerata in straight sets in late December. The 1.88m-tall Serbian middle registered a 60% success rate in attack and put away three stuffs and two aces towards the victory, receiving compliments for her solid performance.
“Was the game against Macerata my best so far? Maybe!” she said after that match. “But I'd rather say that we played well as a team, we did everything we had prepared for and we are happy and satisfied with the three points."
Maja started her club career at Jedinstvo Uzice in her native town in Serbia. Then she moved to Partizan Vizura Belgrade, where she won several national trophies in Serbia and made her CEV Champions League debut before her first international transfer to Romania’s Volei Alba Blaj in 2018. In addition to winning four domestic trophies in Romania, she reached two continental finals, the 2019 CEV Cup and the 2021 Challenge Cup. Last season she won the national title and the national cup of France as a player of Volero Le Cannet.
Aleksic’s national team career has been even more impressive. In 2014, she won gold at the CEV U19 European Championship, and in 2015, she was named on the Dream Team of the FIVB Volleyball Women’s U20 World Championship. Aleksic started playing for the senior national team in 2018 and made her contribution to her country’s first world title. In 2019, Aleksic was the best blocker of the Volleyball Nations League, scoring an average of 0.89 kill blocks per set. Later that year she and her teammates triumphed as European champions. Two years later they earned Olympic bronze at Tokyo 2020, and, in 2022, they claimed a VNL bronze and defended their world title at the World Championship in the Netherlands and Poland.
During most of the first half of the regular season in Italy, the squad from Vallefoglia were struggling to find consistency and Aleksic herself was no exception.
"All the players who took part in the World Championship arrived late in the clubs and I think we needed more time to adapt to the teams, but certainly the second phase of the championship will be different,” Aleksic told the club’s official website.
Vallefoglia have now added three new players to their roster for the rest of the season. The list is headlined by American Olympic champion Andrea Drews. 2022 club world champion Eleonora Furlan has transferred from Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano, and 23-year-old Spanish setter Raquel Lazaro is the third new addition.
“Now that we have three new players, we will continue on our growth path," Aleksic said. “Anyway, I would like Vallefoglia to play differently in the second phase. I don't think we've been missing anything so far. We just haven't played well, which happens sometimes, so we'll work together, stay together and do our best to be better."
“The championship is long. We have many games ahead of us. I would never say that taking part in the playoffs can just be a dream for us. The most important thing for us is to always play with motivation and concentration, without thinking about the final standings, but rather just about the next match," Aleksic added. “I'm here in Italy to play for Megabox and that’s the only thing I think about. I'm improving every day, to fit well in the team and give my contribution.”
This weekend’s full Lega Pallavolo Serie A1 Femminile schedule:
Jan 14, 19:00 local time (18:00 UTC): Reale Mutua Fenera Chieri v Cuneo Granda S.Bernardo
Jan 14, 19:30 local time (18:30 UTC): Igor Gorgonzola Novara v Wash4Green Pinerolo
Jan 14, 20:30 local time (19:30 UTC): Bartoccini-Fortinfissi Perugia v CBF Balducci HR Macerata
Jan 15, 17:00 local time (16:00 UTC): Megabox Ondulati Del Savio Vallefoglia v Savino Del Bene Scandicci
Jan 15, 17:00 local time (16:00 UTC): Prosecco Doc Imoco Conegliano v e-work Busto Arsizio
Jan 15, 17:00 local time (16:00 UTC): Il Bisonte Firenze v Volley Bergamo 1991
Jan 15, 18:30 local time (17:30 UTC): Vero Volley Milano v Trasportipesanti Casalmaggiore