Off the Block releases watch list for 2019 Erik Shoji Award

Photo courtesy of Lewis athletics

Nineteen college men’s volleyball liberos have been selected to the 2019 watch list for the annual Erik Shoji Award.

Off the Block unveiled on Wednesday 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 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-Americans — Lewis libero Michael Simmons and Long Beach State libero Jordan Molina.

The watch list for the 2019 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 former Stanford libero Evan Enriques in 2016, former Long Beach State libero Andrew Sato in 2017 and former Concordia-Irvine libero Jacob Weiser last season.

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

2019 Erik Shoji Award watch list

Avery Aylsworth, Loyola
Kyle Dagostino, Stanford
Emmett Enriques, CSUN
Zach Hendrickson, BYU
Chase Howard, Harvard
Logan Kerley, Lincoln Memorial
Kolbie Knorr, Purdue Fort Wayne
Ryan Lew, UC San Diego
Jordan Molina, Long Beach State
Connor Nagaki, Queens
David Parker, UC Irvine
Garland Peed, UCLA
Christian Phung, North Greenville
Aaron Samarin, Ohio State
Michael Simmons, Lewis
Zach Thompson, McKendree
Gabe Woffindin, St. Francis
Gage Worsley, Hawai’i
Grady Yould, UC Santa Barbara

Watch list player bios

Compiled by Off the Block special contributor Brandon Johnson

Avery Aylsworth, Loyola
Aylsworth was among the MIVA leaders and in the nation’s top 30 last season with 2.02 digs per game average. He also had double-digit digs in eight matches as he helped the Ramblers win a share of the MIVA regular season title.

Kyle Dagostino, Stanford
After spending his career as a serving subsitute and setter, Dagostino will get a shot at the libero job for the Cardinal in 2019. He also during the offseason led the United States and was in the top 10 at the Pan American Cup with a 2.29 digs per game average.

Emmett Enriques, CSUN
After two seasons playing with Cal Baptist, Enriques transferred to CSUN for the 2018 season collected a 2.02 digs per game average, which was fourth in the Big West and in the top 30 nationally.  
 
Zach Hendrickson, BYU
Hendrickson earned the starting libero spot last for BYU, a team ranked in the top-10 all-year long. Along the way, he collected 1.38 digs per set and dished out 0.45 assists per set.
 
Chase Howard, Harvard
Howard had 234 digs and a 2.66 per game average, which was good for the seventh-best mark in the country last season. The libero also helped Harvard win the EIVA championship for the first time in program history.

Logan Kerley, Lincoln Memorial
Kerley as a freshman ended last season in the nation’s top 25 with a 2.22 digs per game average. He also led the Railsplitters with a 94 percent service reception efficiency.

Kolbie Knorr, Purdue Fort Wayne
Knorr in his first season with the Mastodons after transferring from Quincy finished in the top 10 of the MIVA and in the top 30 of the nation with a 2.03 digs per game average.
 
Ryan Lew, UC San Diego
Lew was a bright spot for the Tritons on defense in 2018 as he amassed 172 digs and 1.70 dig per game average last season.
 
Jordan Molina, Long Beach State
Molina put together a strong 2018 season collecting 2.01 digs per game average, which ranked fifth in the Big West. The Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American also helped anchor the back side of the 49ers defense that led the country in hitting efficiency against last season.
 
Connor Nagaki, Queens
Nagaki had one of the best freshman seasons in 2018 as he racked up 250 digs (2.75 per game), which was the sixth most in the country. He was named to the Off the Block All-Independent Team.

David Parker, UC Irvine
Parker led the Big West and was in the nation’s top 15 with a 2.40 digs per game average last season. He also was an All-Big West Honorable Mention as he helped the Anteaters reach the NCAA Tournament opening round.
 
Garland Peed, UCLA
Peed spent a substantial amount of 2018 as the starting libero for the Bruins and averaged 1.69 digs per game. He was the MPSF Defensive Player of the Week when he totaled 19 total digs in two matches against Penn State and Ohio State.

Christian Phung, North Greenville
Phung begins is college career after winning a gold medal at the USA National Beach Tour Junior Championship. The freshman has been a part of the USA volleyball High Performance beach and indoor programs since 2012.
 
Aaron Samarin, Ohio State
In his first season as a starter, Samarin collected 224 digs — the 11th most during a single-season in Ohio State history. He earned MIVA Defensive Player of the Week when he collected 22 total digs in two matches versus McKendree.
 
Michael Simmons, Lewis
Simmons put together a strong junior campaign as he earned a spot of the All-MIVA First-Team. His 257 total digs led the MIVA, and his mark of 2.11 digs per game placed him second in the conference. He was recently named as a member of the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American First Team.

Zach Thompson, McKendree
Thompson was fifth in the MIVA last season with a 2.23 digs per game average, including having double-digit digs in matches against UCLA, Ohio State, Ball State, Princeton and Lewis.

Gabe Woffindin, St. Francis
Woffindin, a 2017 Second-Team All-EIVA selection, returns to the court after missing the 2018 season. As a sophomore in 2017, Woffindin was in in the nation’s top 15 with a 2.35 digs per game average.

Gage Worsley, Hawai’i
Worsley earned Big West All-Freshman Team honors coming off the bench last year as a serving substitute and defensive specialist. The former member of the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team will be vying to replace graduated All-American libero Larry Tuileta in the Rainbow Warriors starting lineup.
 
Grady Yould, UC Santa Barbara
After playing part time his freshman year, Yould put together a fine second act, collecting 192 digs and a 2.16 digs per game, which was among the nation’s top 30 averages.

2 Replies to “Off the Block releases watch list for 2019 Erik Shoji Award”

  1. Interesting that NCAA Tournament team UCI’s Senior Libero David Parker wasn’t mentioned— especially in a year where he will return as the hands down starter on a very potent lineup that will be vying for the Big West Conference title. Other Liberos listed had minimal court time with stats and experience far less than Parker.

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