Off the Block releases watch list for 2018 Erik Shoji Award

Seventeen college men’s volleyball liberos have been selected to the 2018 watch list for the annual Erik Shoji Award.

Off the Block unveiled on Saturday the preseason watch list for the national award that is presented to the best libero in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball during the regular season.

Highlighting this season’s watch list are two finalists for the 2017 Erik Shoji Award — Stanford libero Evan Enriques and Sacred Heart libero Joshua Ayzenberg. Enriques also was one of two Preseason All-Americans to earn a spot on the watch list.

The watch list for the 2018 Erik Shoji Award was determined by Off the Block using a variety of factors including player performances from previous seasons and projections on standout 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 the winner of the Erik Shoji Award presented by Off the Block.

The Erik Shoji Award started in 2016 and was named after the former Stanford All-American and current member of 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.

Previous winners of the Erik Shoji award include Enriques in 2016 and former Long Beach State libero Andrew Sato in 2017.

This is one of five position-based awards presented in college men’s volleyball. Off the Block presents 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 to the nation’s top middle attacker.

These are the only national position-based awards 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 last year was specific to a position.

Off the Block launched in 2011 and is the nation’s leader in college men’s volleyball coverage.

2018 Erik Shoji Award watch list

Joshua Ayzenberg, Sacred Heart
Bryan Cardozo, Erskine
Royce Clemens, Penn State
Darrin DePellegrini, Charleston
Matt Douglas, USC
Emmett Enriques, CSUN
Evan Enriques, Stanford
Johnny Gomez, George Mason
JT Hatch, UCLA
Dustin King, North Greenville
Jimmy Nuckolls, King
Erik Sikes, BYU
Michael Simmons, Lewis
Larry Tuileta, Hawai’i
Ryan Vorderer, Lindenwood
Adam Wessell, Ball State
Gabe Woffindin, St. Francis

2018 Erik Shoji Award watch list player bios

Joshua Ayzenberg, Sacred Heart
Ayzenberg, a finalist for the 2017 Erik Shoji Award, ended last season leading the EIVA and second in the nation with a 2.92 digs per game average. The All-EIVA libero also had double-digit kills in 13 matches and helped Sacred Heart make the EIVA Tournament for the first time in more than five years.

Bryan Cardozo, Erskine
Cardozo was fourth in the nation with a 2.68 digs per game average last season. He also had eight consecutive matches with double-digit kills during the 2017 season and helped Erskine reach the ConfCarolinas Tournament quarterfinals.

Royce Clemens, Penn State
Clemens had a career-high 289 digs and finished among the EIVA and national leaders with a 2.31 digs per game average last season. In addition, Clemens had a combined 26 digs in three postseason matches as Penn State advanced to the NCAA Tournament play-in match.

Darrin DePellegrini, Charleston
DePellegrini was second in the EIVA and sixth in the nation averaging 2.48 digs per game last season. He also had a season-high 23 digs in a non-conference loss to Alderson Broaddus and helped Charleston win a program-record 12 matches.

Matt Douglas, USC
Douglas ended last season in the top 10 of the MPSF and among the national leaders with a 2.11 digs per game average. He also had double-digit digs in nine matches, including 12 digs in a loss to Long Beach State in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.

Emmett Enriques, CSUN
Enriques playing for Cal Baptist last season finished among the MPSF leaders with a 1.93 digs per game average. In addition, Enriques transferred to CSUN in the offseason following Cal Baptist’s decision to disband its men’s volleyball program.

Evan Enriques, Stanford
Enriques, the winner of the 2016 Erik Shoji Award and a 2017 finalist for the national award, finished last season second in the MPSF with a 2.36 digs per game average. The 2018 Preseason All-American also had 12 matches with double-digit digs last season.

Johnny Gomez, George Mason
Gomez returns as a graduate student for his final college season after finishing last season in the nation’s top 20 with a 2.28 digs per game average. The All-EIVA libero also had double-digit digs in four of the final six regular season matches as George Mason ended last season tired for sixth place in the EIVA.

JT Hatch, UCLA
The All-MPSF outside attacker switched positions to libero towards the end of the season and had double-digit digs in two of the final four regular season matches. He also finished the season in the nation’s top 50 with a 1.67 digs per game average and helped UCLA reach the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals.

Dustin King, North Greenville
King was among the ConfCarolinas leaders and in the nation’s top 20 averaging 2.29 digs per game last season. This was the third consecutive season that King had more than 200 digs and helped North Greenville advance to the ConfCarolinas Tournament quarterfinals.

Jimmy Nuckolls, King
Nuckolls ended last season in the nation’s top 25 with a 2.15 digs per game average. The All-ConfCarolinas libero also had nine matches with double-digit digs and helped King win a share of the conference regular season title.

Erik Sikes, BYU
Sikes in limited playing time during the 2017 season because of offseason surgery had a MPSF-best 2.47 digs per game average. He also had a combined 29 digs in five postseason matches as BYU advanced to the NCAA Tournament finals for the second consecutive season.

Michael Simmons, Lewis
Simmons ended last season second in the MIVA with a 2.11 digs per game average and had eight matches with double-digit digs. He also was the only libero selected to the 2018 Preseason All-MIVA Team.

Larry Tuileta, Hawai’i
Tuileta after transferring from USC and sitting out the 2016 season returned to the court and earned All-American honors as he finished 2017 among the nation’s leaders with a 2.36 digs per game average. The 2018 Preseason All-American also helped the Rainbow Warriors earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament semifinals.

Ryan Vorderer, Lindenwood
Vorder led the MIVA and was in the nation’s top 10 with a 2.45 digs per game average last season. He also had double-digit digs in 11 matches, including 12 digs in a near upset against Lewis in the MIVA Tournament quarterfinals.

Adam Wessell, Ball State
Despite missing the start of the season. Wessell returned to the court and ended the season among the MIVA leaders with a 1.97 digs per game average. He also had a season-high 16 digs in a five-game loss to Ohio State in the MIVA Tournament semifinals.

Gabe Woffindin, St. Francis
Woffindin was among the EIVA leaders and in the nation’s top 15 with a 2.35 digs per game average last season. The All-EIVA libero also had double-digit digs in 14 matches to help the Red Flash advance to the EIVA Tournament finals.