St. John’s, which pushed Texas A&M to the limit for two sets on Thursday before getting swept in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, could have been the sports ambassador for volleyball foreign relations.
That’s because St. John’s had 10 foreign players on its roster this season, led by Greek sophomore star Efrosini Alexakou. One of her teammates, Ariadni Kathariou, is also from Thessaloniki, Greece, and they have two teammates from the Czech Republic, two from Italy, and one each from Columbia, Germany, Japan and Serbia.
While St. John’s is in New York, American University is in another international city, Washington, D.C, and seven of the Eagles are foreign. That includes Zeynep Uzen, who led AU in offense all season, and Turkish teammate Asli Celikkol. They had teams from Israel, Italy, Poland, Switzerland and Canada.
We were curious to see just how many players from other countries are in this year’s 64-team NCAA Tournament. You could also wonder that since the USA women have never won an Olympic gold medal, how many Division I college spots are going to foreigners, with domestic scholarship money training our competitors.
There are 74 foreign players in the NCAA field, representing 28 countries. Well, really 27, because we’re counting Puerto Rico (even though it’s in America) because they’re fast becoming one of our most challenging NORCECA rivals.
Canada leads the list with 12 players, followed by Italy (7), Greece (6, four from the city of Thessaloniki alone), Puerto Rico (6), Serbia (5), and Germany (4).
Is there a trend towards using foreign players? Are there more foreign freshmen than seniors? Of our 74 foreign players, we found 21 seniors, 17 juniors, 13 sophomores, and 23 freshmen.
Of the 64 teams in the championship field, 28 have foreign players on their roster. Seven teams have four or more: St. John’s (10), American (7), Cincinnati (5), Missouri (4), Pitt (4), Towson (4), and Washington State (4).
Remember, too, that there are another 268 Division I teams not listed here. Rutgers, for example, had eight foreign players this season, four from Russia alone.
Here are some others:
Cincinnati has two Greek players, two Serbian players, and a Norwegian player.
Missouri’s roster contains three Puerto Ricans and a Chinese player.
Pittsburgh has players from Canada, Greece, Puerto Rico, and Slovenia.
Towson has players from Canada, Greece, Italy, and Serbia.
One of the last four teams in, Washington State has players from the Czech Republic, Germany, Mexico, and Poland.
The top four seeds are primarily American.
Top-seeded Baylor has two foreign players, Canadian Gabby Brown and Marieke van der Mark from the Netherlands, while No. 3 Stanford has Sidney Wilson. There are no foreign players on second-seeded Texas and No. 4 Wisconsin.
The other teams in this year’s NCAA tourney relying solely upon domestic talent are Marquette, Wright State, Purdue, Kentucky, Northern Kentucky, South Carolina, Nebraska, Ball State, UNI, UCLA, Notre Dame, Illinois State, Georgia, Cal Poly, BYU, Howard, Creighton, UCF, Western Kentucky, and Texas State.
There are 10 players that have competed on their respective foreign countries’ senior national teams, 18 with junior national programs.
On the senior national teams, American’s Olivia Wassner, a junior setter, competes for Switzerland. Colorado State’s Paulina Hougaard-Jensen plays for Denmark. Hawai’i kills-leader Hanna Helvig, a freshman outside, has competed for Sweden in 13 senior matches, 35 youth. Iowa State’s Candelaria Herrera spends her off-season with the Argentinian national team, earning a 2019 Pan Am bronze medal.
Minnesota junior outside Airi Miyabe hails from Osaka and competes for Japan. Cincinnati freshman outside Karoline Fauske plays for the Norwegian senior team.
Texas A&M’s Camila Gomez, a senior libero, has competed for Colombia for eight years, including being named best libero at this year’s Pan Am games — not to be confused with Winthrop’s sophomore outside Camila Gomez, who competes on the Chilean U23 squad after transferring from Georgia Southern last year.
USC’s sophomore setter Raquel Lazaro hails from Cordoba, Spain, having competed for the Spanish national team for seven years. Utah’s Kinga Windisch, a junior outside from Budapest, Hungary, has spent time with the senior Croatian national team.
Washington State’s Jocelyn Urias has been a member of the Mexican national team for three years.
|Marieke van der Mark||Baylor||Netherlands||RS||So.|
|Paulina Hougaard-Jensen||Colorado State||Denmark||MB/Opp||Sr.|
|Sasha Colombo||Colorado State||Italy||MB/Opp||So.|
|Candelaria Herrera||Iowa State||Argentina||MB||Jr.|
|Katerina Rocafort||Michigan||Puerto Rico||S||Sr.|
|Leandra Mangual-Duran||Missouri||Puerto Rico||OH||Fr.|
|Dariana Hollingsworth-Santana||Missouri||Puerto Rico||OH/RS||Jr.|
|Andrea Fuentes||Missouri||Puerto Rico||S||R-So.|
|Savannah Davison||NM State||Canada||OH||R-So.|
|Megan Hart||NM State||Canada||MB||R-Sr.|
|Tori Gorrell||Penn State||Canada||OH||R-Sr.|
|Valeria Vazquez Gomez||Pitt||Puerto Rico||OH||Fr.|
|Liisel Nelis||Sacred Heart||Estonia||OH||RS-Sr|
|Ariana Pagan||SFA||Puerto Rico||OH||Fr.|
|Maria Angelica Palacios||St Johns||Colombia||MB||Jr.|
|Tiziana Baumrukova||St Johns||Czech||S||Jr.|
|Klara Mikelova||St Johns||Czech||OH||Jr.|
|Hanna Wagner||St Johns||Germany||MB||Sr.|
|Efrosini Alexakou||St Johns||Greece||OH||So.|
|Ariadni Kathariou||St Johns||Greece||MB||So.|
|Rachele Rastelli||St Johns||Italy||RS||So.|
|Erica Di Maulo||St Johns||Italy||S||Sr.|
|Mimi Larry||St Johns||Japan||DS||Fr.|
|Jovana Askovic||St Johns||Serbia||RS/OH||So.|
|Camila Gomez||Texas A&M||Colombia||L/DS||Sr.|
|Veronica Brod Farias||VCU||Brazil||MB||Jr.|