Jonathan Bates | Associate Editor
The Erik Shoji Award is annually given to the nation’s best libero in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball during the regular season.
The award is named after the former Stanford All-American and current U.S. Men’s National Team libero Erik Shoji and is selected by a nationwide voting committee of college men’s volleyball coaches and media members.
Check out who made Off the Block’s preseason watch list for the Erik Shoji Award for 2020.
Will Bantle, Penn State
Bantle earned Second-Team All-EIVA honors last year as a redshirt freshman with a team-best 1.82 digs per game average. His season-best mark last year was nine digs, a feat he accomplished five times.
Addison Enriques, Concordia-Irvine
Enriques led the MPSF with 233 total digs and a 2.14 digs per game average in 2019. He had double-digit digs in seven matches last year, topping out with a 14 dig performance versus Benedictine-Mesa on March 23.
Jaden Gillette, Daemen
In the program’s first-ever match, Gillette had 18 digs – the best by a player from an Independent program in 2019. Gillette’s 1.79 digs per game helped Daemen to rank No. 3 nationally with a 0.218 opponent attack percentage.
Ruben Greenstein, Queens
Greenstein had 178 digs and finished among the in the top 20 with 2.05 digs per set. He was named to the Off the Block All-Independent Team after finishing with six match with 10+ digs. His highest single-match performance was 15 digs versus North Greenville on January 9.
Noam Hannoun, Quincy
The Israeli native led the nation with a 2.89 digs per game average in 2019 as a freshman. He had four matches with 20+ digs, including a 24 dig performance versus St. Xavier. In fact, the rest of the nation combined to only produce six matches with 20+ digs. That 24 dig performance was the best in a single match in 2019 by any player, and he was two assists shy of a double-double. He earned All-MIVA Freshman Team honors last year.
Ryan Lew, UC San Diego
Lew was No. 12 in the nation last year with a 2.23 digs per game average. That average ranks No. 4 among returning liberos as well. Lew’s 19 digs versus Concordia on February 1 was a team-high and conference-best for the year. Through three seasons, he has 533 career digs, good for a 1.97 digs per game average.
Michal Podgorzak, Limestone
The Polish native was No. 8 in the nation last year with 2.34 digs per game, and ranks third among returning liberos in terms of digs per game. He had double-digit dig performances in nine matches last year, including five of his final seven matches. His season-best was 18 digs in a match, a feat he achieved twice. Limestone as a team ranked No. 1 nationally last year with 10.44 digs per game.
Jason Shen, Harvard
The sophomore had double-digs in more than a quarter of his matches during his freshman campaign, including a 19 dig performance against NJIT in five games on February 23 (best single match performance in the EIVA last year). His 1.81 digs per game average last year ranks No. 11 among returning liberos.
Cole Udall, Grand Canyon
Udall was named to the All-MPSF Freshman Team last year on the strength of his 2.00 digs per game, good for No. 20 in the nation. He had eight double-digit dig performances last year, and peaked at 15 digs in matches versus Loyola and USC. He led the conference in digs per game during conference play.
Gage Worsley, Hawai’i
The Junior was named to the All-American First Team last year after notching a dozen matches with double-digit digs. His best performance last year was 15 digs in a match, a feat he accomplished twice, including once against eventual national champion, Long Beach State. His 2.44 digs per game average and his 249 digs are second among returning liberos to Noam Hannoun.