Long Beach State libero Sato wins 2017 Erik Shoji Award

Long Beach State libero Andrew Sato will conclude his college career with a trip to the NCAA Tournament and the top national honor for his position.

Off the Block announced Thursday that a nationwide voting committee selected Sato as the 2017 recipient of the Erik Shoji Award.

The Erik Shoji Award, which is named after the former Stanford All-American and U.S. Olympian libero, is presented to the nation’s best libero in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball during the regular season.

Sato ended the regular season leading the MPSF and seventh in the nation averaging 2.48 digs per game, including having a season-high 23 digs in a four-game victory against St. Francis in February. The All-MPSF selection had double-digit digs in 10 matches as No. 1/1 Long Beach State won a share of the MPSF regular season title.

Along with these accomplishments, Sato set the Long Beach State school record in March for career digs and was the only libero this season to earn MPSF Player of the Week honors. He also had a combined 25 digs in three postseason matches to help the 49ers win the MPSF Tournament title and a NCAA Tournament berth.

The voting committee for the Erik Shoji Award was comprised of about 25 college men’s volleyball head coaches and volleyball reporters from around the nation. In addition, the U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Shoji cast a vote for the award named in his honor.

The top three vote-getters were named finalists for the Erik Shoji Award.

Sato at 52 votes received more votes than other two finalists combined. Sacred Heart libero Joshua Ayzenberg was the runner-up with 21 votes, while Stanford libero Evan Enriques, the inaugural recipient of the award, finished in third place with 14 votes.

This is the second year of the Erik Shoji Award, which is one of several end of season awards presented by Off the Block. Among the other national awards includes the Lloy Ball Award to the nation’s top setter, the Bryan Ivie Award to the nation’s top opposite, the Karch Kiraly Award to the nation’s top outside attacker and the Ryan Millar Award to the nation’s top middle attacker.

Off the Block is a national award winning website that launched in 2011 and is the nation’s leaders in college men’s volleyball coverage.

ERIK SHOJI AWARD (voting results)
1. Andrew Sato, Long Beach State — 52 votes
2. Joshua Ayzenberg, Sacred Heart — 21 votes
3. Evan Enriques, Stanford — 14 votes
T-4. Dillon Hoffman, UC Irvine — 11 votes
T-4. Larry Tuileta, Hawai’i — 11 votes
6. Keenan Freitas, Lees-McRae — 7 votes
7. Bryan Cardozo, Erskine — 3 votes
8. Gabriel Domecus, Ohio State — 2 votes
T-9. Joshua Donahue, Mount Olive — 1 vote
T-9. Dustin King, North Greenville — 1 vote
T-9. Nick Lavanchy, Ball State — 1 vote
T-9. Erik Sikes, BYU — 1 vote
T-9. Michael Simmons, Lewis — 1 vote