Troy volleyball lands former All-American transfer

Published 10:25 pm Tuesday, June 18, 2013

After losing five seniors, Troy volleyball head coach Sonny Kirkpatrick knew he had some work to do in the offseason. The recruiting trail has been kind to Kirkpatrick and the Trojans as the program picked up its sixth signee on Tuesday in Marija Zelenovic.

Zelenovic, a 6-foot-3 outside hitter from Novi Sad, Serbia, was an All-American at the NAIA level when she played for Lee University in Tennessee.

“She was looking to play at a higher level and we had a home for her,” Kirkpatrick said. “She is a really good player and has experience at the college level.”

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As a two-time All-American at Lee, Zelenovic recorded 402 kills last season. Lee finished with a 30-11 record and ranked No. 9 in the NAIA Coaches Top 25 poll.

Zelenovic, who transfers to Troy as a junior, joins Cassie Hendricks and Katie Feemster as Troy’s three 6-foot-3 signees. In the trio, the Trojans get a much-needed boost in height after having just two players on last year’s roster of 6-foot-2 or taller.

“I think its obviously a benefit,” Kirkpatrick said of the addition’s size advantage. “We’re looking for the best players we can find. If they’re 6-3, it helps.”

Troy finished last season 21-12 overall before the youthful Trojans were ousted from the conference tournament in the second round. The season was a historic one for the program. The team’s 10 Sun Belt Conference wins set a school record and completed its first 20-win season in a decade.

The Trojans lost several key members from last year’s squad including four-year starter Devin Von Pingel who set a school record with 303 career blocks. Also gone is Courtney Cohen who set Troy’s single season record with 563 digs.

Losing such talent may worry many coaches but Kirkpatrick feels comfortable with his returning roster.

“We felt really good about the roster last season but if you look at it, we got significant contributions from several freshmen,” he said. “I feel just as confident with our returning roster as I did with last year’s.”

Troy will host the 2013 Sun Belt Conference Volleyball Tournament as they will play their first season in the new Trojan Arena.

The Trojans begin the regular season in the Southern Miss Invitational on Aug. 30. The team’s first home match is set for Sept. 2 against Georgia Southern.