Kovačević excited to play for Niagara next season

Mirna Kovačević signs her LOI to play for Niagara.

NMMI Sports Press

Mirna Kovacevic sets a ball to a hitter in 2017.

Bronco volleyball player Mirna Kovačević has high praise for the New Mexico Military Institute and what it has helped her achieve.

“I can talk about this all day. I really loved my time here from Day 1,” she said. “Well, not Day. 1. I hated Day 1. But from the first week to the end. And I’m really excited to go home, but I can’t imagine leaving the people behind. And I really hope we’re going to see each other after. I’ve gained so much experience. I learned a lot more about volleyball. I learned the language. I bettered my grades. I learned leadership. How to be in charge of people. How to be part of a crew. So it’s done a lot for me and I do not regret a minute of it.”

All this and more the 6-foot-2 sophomore setter from Serbia will bring to her new school, DI Niagara University in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Kovačević said she was as excited to go on to the next stage of her volleyball career as she was to come to the Institute.

“I was screaming this morning when I found out I got the papers,” she said. “It was like the first time (head coach) Shelby (Forchtner) offered me (a scholarship.) It was the same exact feeling. I’m so excited to go on to the next chapter of my life and just do great things. Because I feel like I can do so much more with that confidence. And just do what I love. That’s the most important thing.”

Forchtner agrees with that excitement.

“I’m just excited to watch her grow for two more years,” she said. “When she got here, she probably had some of the best hands of anybody we’d ever seen, in 15 years. She just needed some fine tuning. It’s been nice to watch her grow for two years, but I know there’s a lot more in there, too. So it’s going to be fun to watch during her senior year and see the growth over the four years. I think she’s going to be able to go in right away and contribute to their program and start for them, and that’s exactly what they need in the setting position. She just needs to she carry over what she did this year to the next level.”

The Purple Eagles had their best MAAC finish ever in 2017, going 18-10 overall and 14-4 in conference before losing to rival Iona in the MAAC tournament. It’s a finish Kovacevic hopes to reverse next year.

 

Mirna Kovacevic poses for a head shot during the 2017 season.

“They are really struggling with that team, so I hope I can help them reach that goal of winning that conference,” she said.

If Kovačević’s can post similar stats at Niagara to those she recorded at NMMI, it might do exactly that. Mirna played in 42 matches this season for the Lady Broncos, had 661 assists, 33 aces, 195 digs, and 48 kills with a .318 kill percentage.

The setter is excited about new head coach Donna Day — a two-year assistant coach — and the team.

“She’s an amazing person,” Kovacevic said. “She reminds me of my previous coach, Shelby. I met the team and we just bonded instantly and I can see them as being my sisters, and I see them bringing me in as their sister, too. So I hope we’re going to connect on the same level and I’m really excited and looking forward to it.”

The other reason for choosing the school is her major, which is hospitality and tourism, which none of the other schools she visited offered. The sophomore hopes to eventually work on a cruise ship, which suits her ebullient personality.

And it’s that personality Forchnter said they’ll miss the most.

“She possesses a lot of leadership qualities that have helped the last two years in terms of team unity. She enjoys her teammates and her teammates enjoy her and she possesses a lot of motherly skills, in terms of making sure she’s got all of her stuff and being on time and taking care of other people around her. Those things are hard to find in 18-, 19-, 20-year old kids, nowadays.

Kovacevic closed out her signing interview with the same enthusiasm for the Institute that she started with

“I want to thank so many people here, but most of all coaches Shelby and (assistant coach) Alonso (Ibarra) who worked with me in building my confidence and building my athletic abilities. Just thanks to my entire team and everybody who’s been with me through the whole process: my teachers and the TLAs and the Dean. It’s so amazing and I love it here.

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