Meet globe-trotting senior volleyballer Andrea Estrada


Senior outside hitter Andrea Estrada reacts to a play Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, during the Salukis’ 4-1 loss to the University of Indiana Sycamores at Davies Gym. (Mary Newman | @MaryNewmanDE)

By Dillon Gilliland

From Colombian national team captain to academic success while climbing the all-time kills ranks at SIU, senior outside hitter Andrea Estrada has built herself an impressive multi-national resume in athletics and education.

The redshirt senior was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, where she attended Colegio Santa María.

Estrada competed in several sports growing up including tennis, soccer and horseback riding. However, the Colombian native found her success in volleyball — which she has played since she was nine years old.


The young volleyball player was inspired by her mother, Silvia Jaramillo, who is a hero in the sport in Colombia. Jaramillo was captain of the Colombian national team and was also a member of the first Colombian team to ever qualify for the World Cup of Volleyball in 1991.

“She is a big deal in Colombia,” Estrada said. “There wasn’t video recordings of her playing, but I would see pictures of her playing and it really inspired me to play.

Athleticism in the family also extends to her brother, who plays soccer in Colombia. Her brother also played one year of volleyball during his senior year of high school.

Prior to coming to SIU, the Colombian volleyball star served as captain of the Colombian under-20 junior national team. She led the team to a qualifying bid into the FIVB Junior World Championship in the Czech Republic in 2013 — the first championship the Colombian team had qualified for since her mother captained the 1991 national team to a tournament — finishing 13th in the world.

“It was awesome,” Estrada said. “It was so gratifying knowing that I got to play against the best players in the world.”

The philosophy major also competed in the 2013 Copa Latina held in Peru, where she led the junior national team to a first place finish, to go along with a third place finish at the 2013 Junior Pan American Volleyball Cup.

Transferring to SIU was not the first time Estrada visited the United States, as she took part in a foreign exchange student program in her junior year of high school that landed her in Texas — where she also played club volleyball.

“The whole college thing was new,” Estrada said. “But I was used to the culture and knew what to expect from people so that made the transition smooth.”

Although Hofstra University and the University of Northern Texas were looking into recruiting Estrada, it was former Saluki volleyball head coach Justin Ingram who convinced the Colombian star to take a serious look at SIU.

“He saw me playing on the internet and then added me on Facebook,” Estrada said. “That was how the recruiting process started.”

The Colombian native debated between Hofstra University and SIU, finally choosing Southern for its architecture program. Estrada later changed her major to philosophy.

During her freshman year at SIU, Estrada was forced to redshirt and sit out volleyball for a year due to the different grading scales at the high school level between Colombia and the United States.

Even though she was an exchange student in the states for her junior year of high school, she returned to Colombia to graduate high school. The NCAA forced her to sit out athletic competition for a year – an academic redshirt — to see if she could handle college-level education. Estrada went on to achieve a 4.0 GPA her freshman year, allowing her to play volleyball the following season.

In her first year of college volleyball, Estrada led the Salukis in kills with 322 and was named to the 2014 MVC All-Freshman Team.

“I was just ready to play,” the outside hitter said. “I wanted to show what I can do.”

Estrada continued to find success with the program in 2015, earning AVCA All-Region, All-MVC First Team, MVC Scholar-Athlete Honorable Mention and MVC Player of the Week honors. She was also named to the All-MVC Second Team in 2016.

“Even though I did good things in the past, its all about right now,” she said. “Every year is a new year and anyone can do anything.”

Estrada has carried her success over into her final year of volleyball as she leads the team in kills with 150 on the season. She continues to climb the all-time ranks in kills at SIU with 1261 as of writing, putting her at seventh all-time in the program — only three kills away from sixth on the list.

During volleyball season the outside hitter said she focuses most of her free time on her school work.

“I don’t have time to watch Netflix or stuff like that,” Estrada said. “If I’m not on the court, I’ll be somewhere on campus like the the library or even in my room just studying.”

The Saluki student-athlete’s diligence has already garnered her enough credits to graduate with a bachelor’s in philosophy, but decided to stay one last year to play volleyball. Estrada said she has no intentions on pursuing a professional career in the sport, as she will be heading back to Colombia to start law school in Jan. of 2018. In the meantime, her focus is helping lead the team to be the best they can be this season as they strive towards a conference championship.

“I just want the team to be more confident and play to our full potential,” Estrada said. “We can do more but we don’t show it sometimes.”

Sports reporter Dillon Gilliland can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @DillonGilliland.

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