Anja Malesevic came to the U.S. in search of the American Dream, but she turned out to be the fantasy of every volleyball team.
Malesevic, who emigrated from Serbia in August, is finishing her senior year of high school at Benjamin Cardozo and is making waves as one of the city’s top volleyball players this season.
Following a victory against Francis Lewis on October 21, the Lady Judges are undefeated 8-0, and Malesevic leads the city in kills with 95 in seven matches. The next player has just 73.
“She’s a tremendous player,” said head coach Daniel Scarola. “She’s well-rounded in her skills and she hits really hard. She’s been a great gift to have.”
Scarola said he was informed that Malesevic, a long, sturdy outside hitter, was coming to the school over the summer. Since she grew up playing volleyball in Serbia, when the coach met her he instantly knew she was a great player.
“I was like ‘wow, the height, the athletic ability, it was just what we needed,” Scarola said.
When Malesevic first came to the country she said she had to overcome some challenges, such as the separation from her family and friends and using English as a primary language.
But she had no problems fitting in with the team.
“They were just so excited,” Malesevic said. “They wanted to know how tall I am and they accepted me from the first day.”
Malesevic, who towers over most of her teammates, is 6’2”. Her ability to spike the ball is a lethal weapon for the other players, who frequently look to feed her the ball for kills.
One of Cardozo’s key players, senior setter Zhan Cheng Yin, who had 20 assists in the game, leads the league in assists, 149, primarily because of Malesevic’s success.
Last year Yin had just 115 for the entire season.
With Malesevic, the Lady Judges are once again competitive and in the hunt for their seventh PSAL City Championship.
“I feel great helping these girls, this coach and this school,” Malesevic said. “It’s a huge step in my life. But I really like it here.”
PSAL QUEENS A EAST GIRLS VOLLEYBALL STANDINGS – 10(23)2013
Benjamin Cardozo 9 - 0
Townsend Harris 5 - 3
Bayside High School 4 - 4
Francis Lewis 4 - 4
Queens High School of Teaching 2 - 5
Martin Van Buren 0 - 8