From the net to the back line, the six players on a volleyball court all work toward the same goal—winning. And from top to bottom, a couple of Cyclone players couldn’t be further from each other…in height.

Jovana Koldzic reaches 6-foot-2 while her teammate, Jessica Gavras, is exactly 5-feet tall. For both of them, 2016 was their first season with the Cyclone volleyball team. Gavras is a graduate of Oak Lawn High School while Koldzic hails from Belgrade, Serbia. Koldzic has only been in the U.S. for a few years to earn her college degree.

With such height discrepancies, they each come with different perspectives.

“It’s easy being closer to the ground for balls that are hit pretty hard. Being shorter also makes me quicker. For me to go down to the floor is just faster than Jovana,” Gavras said. “Plus, I have more hiding spots. I can hide a lot easier than tall people.”

“When you go anywhere, everyone sees you first. And I can see above everyone,” Koldzic added. “I can block more shots and hit the ball harder than short people, too.”

Both have played volleyball for several years—Koldzic from age six and Gavras since fifth grade. When not on the court, Gavras enjoys running as well.

Following this past successful volleyball season, Gavras was named to the All-NJCAA Region IV second team and All-Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference first team, while Koldzic earned nods to the All-Conference second team. With the season over, school is their main focus. Gavras is still deciding on a major, but Koldzic is interested in international business or accounting.

Back in Serbia, many of Koldzic’s family members play sports. Although she has enjoyed her time in the U.S., she does miss home. “Everything is different here. The first month here I was in culture shock. People do more activities with others back at home; here people are more independent. People drive everywhere here,” she said. “The best thing though is my educational opportunities in the U.S. I get to meet people from other cultures because people are from everywhere, and it helps improve my English.”