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Ana Jakovljevic earns national honors — again

NWC freshman leading nation in kills

For the second time in a month, Northwest College freshman Ana Jakovljevic has been named the NJCAA national player of the week in Division I volleyball. The award came in a week where Jakovljevic turned in a trio of performances that featured more than 20 kills, including a season-high 34 kills in a five-game Trapper victory at Casper College.

“I’m sure they were hesitant to give her national player of the week honors for a second time in the same season,” Trapper head coach Shaun Pohlman said of Jakovljevic, an outside hitter from Serbia. “At the same time, it’s one of those things where if they didn’t, you’d really have to question if they knew what they were doing. You look at what Ana did last week and you just say there can’t be another player doing what she’s doing out there right now.”

What Jakovljevic is doing right now is slamming the ball down on the opposing side of the net with greater frequency than anyone else in the nation. The criminal justice major is averaging a nation-leading 4.41 kills per game, a number that has risen over the past month despite Jakovljevic’s abilities becoming more well known in both regional and national circles.

“Part of it is that she’s becoming more comfortable in her own skin,” Pohlman said of Jakovljevic’s success. “When she first came here, she was in a foreign land. She was a freshman. It took her a while to feel comfortable. Now she realizes that her opinion is as important as anyone’s out there. She’s talking more and she realizes that she has as big a part on the team as anyone.”

Jakovljevic’s success is also a testimony to the rest of the Trappers’ lineup, Pohlman notes.

“It speaks well to the rest of the team,” Pohlman said. “If it was just Ana, I think it would be fairly easy to assign two blockers and camp out on her and slow her down. But we’re not a one-note song, and if people focus too much on her we can go other places and utilize our other players in diverse ways. People have to respect that, so it really comes down to team effort. If the team wasn’t doing what it was doing, there wouldn’t be any awards.”

And with those awards have come attention, not just for Jakovljevic, but for Northwest College in general.

“The first time she earned national player of the week, I had a bunch of colleges on the phone talking to me and wanting to know about Ana and asking about all of our players,” Pohlman said. “Now that she’s been honored again, I think it will really be a head-raiser for a lot of people. Getting it twice is going to get attention from a lot more people.”

Helping to attract attention is the fact that Jakovljevic is more than just a kills machine at the net. She also ranks among the Trappers’ leaders in digs along the back rank and in service aces, making her pretty much a complete package when it comes to the volleyball court

In the midst of the attention, the Trappers are preparing for a pair of ranked opponents this week in No. 13 Central Wyoming and No. 15 Western Wyoming.

“We are honored to be having her do what she’s doing and thankful for the respect that both Ana and our program are getting as a result,” said Pohlman.

The Trappers are 15-10 overall and 6-1 in Region IX North play. The Trappers were among a cluster of teams outside the national top 20 receiving votes in this week’s national poll (see related story, this issue).

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