International talent boosts volleyball performance

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

SIU volleyball has had seven international players since coach Justin Ingram took over in 2012. Six on this year’s team leads the Missouri Valley Conference. 

The international Dawgs traveled to Carbondale from Canada, England, Israel, Sweden, Columbia and Brazil. 

Evansville and Indiana State each have two international players. Evansville also has seven players from Puerto Rico — a U.S. territory. 


Ingram was in charge of recruiting high school and junior college players as an assistant coach at the University of Houston and was the recruiting coordinator at Kansas State University before coming to SIU. At KSU he often made trips to foreign countries to scout players. 

“Each player, regardless of international or domestic, they are recruited specifically for talent,” Ingram said. “Everybody has a different story, some are more interesting and others are a more normal experience.”

Of the six international players, Ingram only visited one — sophomore outside hitter Nellie Fredriksson — in her home country of Sweden.

Ingram said he visited Fredriksson to get to know her family and explain the system of college athletics at SIU. 

Fredriksson played in 112 out of 113 sets last season and recorded 160 kills.

“[Ingram] found me through YouTube and Facebook,” Fredriksson said. ”My coach [in Sweden] put my practice clips up on YouTube to see where we can improve, the videos were public and [Ingram] saw them.” 

Ingram said the Internet is the primary way he finds prospects.


This led Ingram to finding redshirt sophomore outside hitter Andrea Estrada while she was playing for the Colombian Under-23 national team in the Pan-American games. Ingram watched the matches online and put Estrada on his list of potential prospects.      

“Volleyball in Columbia is not a big sport,” Estrada said. ”Ever since my mother was offered a scholarship to play [volleyball] in America, the opportunity to play here was always my goal.” 

Ingram said he has to compete with professional teams trying to recruit players who can pay the athlete, which is a perk collegiate teams can not offer. 

Communicating with prospects and their families has been difficult for coach Ingram. He would often seek help from younger family members to translate between himself and player’s parents. 

However, when players arrive in Carbondale, communication is easier. 

Junior hitter and setter Meg Viggars, from Stoke-on-Trent, England, said English is the most common language spoken on the team and communication on the court is not a problem. 

“I mean, it’s all the same apart from the accent,” she said. 

Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @EvanJones_DE.