Off the Block releases watch list for 2016 Erik Shoji Award

Thirteen college men’s volleyball players have been selected to the 2016 watch list for the inaugural Erik Shoji Award.

Off the Block announced Tuesday the watch list for the new national award presented to the best libero in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball during the regular season.


The watch list is highlighted with both Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American Team liberos, Hawai’i’s Kolby Kanetake and Long Beach State’s Andrew Sato. In addition, five liberos who earned all-conference honors last season were selected to the watch list.

The watch list for the 2016 Erik Shoji Award was determined by Off the Block using a variety of factors including player performances from previous seasons and projections on liberos to watch during the upcoming season.

The winner of the Erik Shoji Award will be selected at the end of the regular season by a nationwide voting committee comprised of coaches and media members. The top-three vote-getters will be named finalists, while the player receiving the most votes will be winner of the Erik Shoji Award presented by Off the Block.

The Erik Shoji Award was named for the former four-time Stanford All-American and current starting libero on the U.S. Men’s National Team. The naming of the award after a player was done in an effort to honor and incorporate the history of college volleyball into this award

This is one of five position-based awards presented in college men’s volleyball. Off the Block also presents the Bryan Ivie Award to the nation’s top opposite, the Karch Kiraly Award to the nation’s top outside attacker and the Lloy Ball Award to the nation’s top setter.

These are the only national position-based award in college men’s volleyball. Several volleyball organizations give out national end-of-year awards such as All-American Teams, but no national award before 2014 was specific to a position.

Off the Block launched in 2011 and in recent years has emerged among the nation’s leaders in college men’s volleyball coverage.


2016 ERIK SHOJI AWARD WATCH LIST
Jackson Bantle, UCLA
Luis Bertran, IPFW
Hayden Boehle, UC Santa Barbara
Simon Bruckner, Quincy
Josh Donahue, Mount Olive
Evan Enriques, Stanford
Tanner Howard, UC San Diego
Kolby Kanetake, Hawai’i
Dustin King, North Greenville
Andrew Sato, Long Beach State
Jake Selsky, Loyola
Brooks Varni, USC
Chandler Wellmann, King

ERIK SHOJI AWARD WATCH LIST PLAYER BIOS
Jackson Bantle, UCLA — Bantle finished among the MPSF leaders with a 2.06 digs per game average last season, including having double-digit kills in six matches. The junior also helped the Bruins earn a berth to the 2015 MPSF Tournament.

Luis Bertran, IPFW — Bertran, the 2016 MIVA Preseason Libero of the Year, led the conference and was in the nation’s top 10 last season with a 2.56 digs per game average. The senior also earned all-conference honors as the Mastodons finished in fourth place and reached the 2015 MIVA Tournament quarterfinals.

Hayden Boehle, UC Santa Barbara — Boehle was among the national freshmen leaders with a 2.17 digs per game average last season and earned Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshmen All-American honors. He also had double-digit digs in five matches for the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team at the FIVB U21 World Championship during the summer.

Simon Bruckner, Quincy — Bruckner finished third in the MIVA with a 2.12 digs per game average last season. The sophomore also helped Quincy in 2015 earn a berth to the eight-team MIVA Tournament.

Josh Donahue, Mount Olive — Donahue was second in the nation with a 3.21 digs per game average last season, including having a season-high 26 digs in a five-game victory against Barton in April. The junior also earned 2015 all-conference honors as Mount Olive advanced to the Conference Carolinas Tournament semifinals.

Evan Enriques, Stanford — Enriques as a freshman last season spent time at libero and outside attacker and ended with a 1.70 digs per game average. He also had five matches with double-digit digs as Stanford finished in ninth place in the MPSF.

Tanner Howard, UC San Diego — Howard was among the team leaders with a 1.38 digs per game average last season, including double-digit digs in three conference matches. The senior also was named one of the UC San Diego captains for the upcoming season.

Kolby Kanetake, Hawai’i — Kanetake ended last season in the nation’s top five with a 2.88 assists per game average and was one of two MPSF liberos with more than 300 digs. The 2016 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American Team selection also helped the Rainbow Warriors reach to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in almost a decade.

Dustin King, North Greenville — King led the nation with a 3.23 digs per game average last season and had a season-high 32 digs in a loss to King in March. The sophomore also earned all-conference honors in 2015 as North Greenville in its inaugural season reached the Conference Carolinas Tournament.

Andrew Sato, Long Beach State — Sato, a 2016 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American Team selection, returns to the court after redshirting last season. Sato in 2014 was second in the MPSF and among the national leaders with a 2.80 digs per game average.

Jake Selsky, Loyola — Selsky as a freshman was in the top 10 of the MIVA with a 2.02 digs per game average last season. He also had 12 digs in the NCAA Tournament finals to help Loyola defeat Lewis in five games to repeat as national champions.

Brooks Varni, USC — Varni ended last season in the MPSF top 10 with a 2.06 assists per game average. The senior also helped the Trojans finish in fifth place in the MPSF and advance to the conference tournament semifinals.

Chandler Wellmann, King — Wellmann was fourth in the Conference Carolinas with both 237 digs and a 2.26 digs per game average last season. He also had double-digit digs in 10 matches to help King earn a berth to the 2015 Conference Carolinas Tournament.