Men's Update: Five Things About Erik Shoji

By B.J. Hoeptner Evans (bj.evans@usav.org) | March 03, 2016, 7:50 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 3, 2016) – Libero Erik Shoji had a great season in 2015 and capped it off by being named the Best Libero at the FIVB World Cup as the U.S. Men won and qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Shoji is playing in Germany for a third straight season this winter and on Feb. 28, he helped his team, the Berlin Recycling Volleys, win the German Cup.

Here are five things you might not know about Erik Shoji:

  1. He hopes to be a doctor someday and majored in human biology at Stanford
  2. In the United States’ final match of the 2015 FIVB World Cup, Shoji scored on an overhand desperation dig from the U.S. end line that fell on Argentina’s side with the U.S. leading 22-18 in the fourth set, but with Argentina making a charge. The play was counted as a dig and not a kill
  3. The web site OfftheBlockBlog.com has created a national award for the best libero in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball and named it after Shoji
  4. If he were not competing in volleyball, he would be competing in table tennis
  5. As a child, he competed in baseball, but says he was “scared of the ball.”

GERMANY

The Berlin Recycling Volleys, including Erik Shoji and outside hitter Paul Lotman, defeated TV Ingersoll Buhl in the final of the German Cup, 25-18, 25-12, 25-17 on Feb. 28. Shoji was credited with 14 receptions, 57 percent positive. Lotman scored eight points on eight kills and was credited with 22 receptions, 64 percent positive. U.S. setter Graham McIlvaine, who plays for Buhl, scored four points on two kills and two blocks and set his team to a .258 hitting efficiency. U.S. outside hitter Peter Russell, who also plays for Buhl, played as a substitute and scored one point on a kill.

POLAND

Opposite Murphy Troy and LOTOS Trefl Gdańsk beat Zaksa Kędzierzyn-Koźle, 25-23, 21-25, 25-23, 25-20 on Feb. 28. Troy led all scorers with 22 points on 18 kills, a match-high three blocks and one ace.

Outside hitter Thomas Jaeschke, middle blocker Russell Holmes and Asseco Resovia Rzeszów fell to Cuprum Lubin, 25-22, 32-30, 25-23 on Feb. 27.  Jaeschke scored eight points on eight kills and was credited with 18 receptions, 72 percent positive. Holmes started the first and third sets and scored four points on one kill, two blocks and one ace.

ITALY

Setter Micah Christenson, outside hitter Reid Priddy and Cucine Lube Banca Marche Civitanova beat Gi Group Monza, 25-21, 25-22, 25-16 on Feb. 28. Christenson was named the match MVP as he scored three points on two kills and one block and set his team to a .433 hitting efficiency. Priddy played as a substitute.

Outside hitter Taylor Sander and Calzedonia Verona beat Diatec Trentino, 28-26, 25-23, 12-25, 25-22 on Feb. 28. Sander scored 12 points on eight kills, one block and a match-high three aces.

Outside hitter Aaron Russell and Sir Safety Conad Perugia beat LPR Piacenza, 24-26, 25-19, 18-25, 25-22, 15-11 on Feb. 28. Russell scored 14 points on 13 kills and one block. He was credited with 40 receptions, 38 percent positive.

Outside hitter Brian Cook, middle blocker Taylor Averill and Tonazzo Padova fell to Revivre Milano, 25-22, 25-15, 23-25, 25-21 on March 1. Cook scored seven points on seven kills and was credited with 27 receptions, 48 percent positive. Averill started the first two sets and scored three points on three kills.

RUSSIA

Matt Anderson and Zenit Kazan beat Lokomotiv Novosibirsk, 25-20, 25-23, 25-13 on Feb. 27. Anderson, who plays outside hitter for Kazan, scored nine points on seven kills, one block and one ace. He was credited with 21 receptions, 48 percent positive.

Middle blocker Max Holt and Dinamo Moscow defeated Yenisey Krasnoyarsk, 25-13, 25-15, 25-22 on Feb. 27. Holt scored eight points on two kills, three blocks and three aces.

FRANCE

Middle blocker David Smith and Tours beat Narbonne, 25-15, 25-22, 25-20 on Feb. 27. Smith scored seven points on three kills, three blocks and one ace.

Libero Dustin Watten and Nancy lost to Toulouse, 25-16, 25-23, 25-22 on Feb. 26. Watten was credited with 17 receptions, 94 percent positive.

GREECE

Middle blocker David Lee, outside hitter Jayson Jablonsky and PAOK fell to AO Foinikas Sirou, 25-23, 25-19, 25-22 on Feb. 29. Jablonsky scored eight points on seven kills and one block. He was credited with 24 receptions, 54 percent positive. U.S. outside hitter Cody Caldwell played for Sirou and scored eight points on seven kills and one block. He was credited with 26 receptions, 50 percent positive.

TURKEY

Opposite Will Price led all scorers as Istanbul BBSK beat Ziraat Bankasi, 25-17, 25-18, 25-20 on Feb. 28. Price scored 13 points on 12 kills and one block.

CEV CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Matt Anderson and Russia’s Zenit Kazan have advanced to the six-team playoff of the CEV Champions League after beating Murphy Troy and Poland’s Lotos Trefl Gdansk twice in the 12-team playoff. On March 2, Kazan beat Gdansk, 25-19, 25-16, 25-22. Anderson started the first two sets and scored 10 points on six kills, two blocks and two aces. He was credited with 10 receptions, 30 percent positive. Troy started the first set and scored three points on two kills and one ace.

Micah Christenson, Reid Priddy and Italy’s Cucine Lube Banca Marche Civitanova also advanced after defeating setter Kawika Shoji and Turkey’s Arkas Izmir Spor twice in the 12-team playoff. On March 2, Civitanova won, 25-14, 23-25, 25-18, 32-30. Christenson scored two points on two blocks and set his team to a .385 hitting efficiency. Priddy started the fourth set and scored six points on five kills and one ace. He was credited with 12 receptions, 58 percent positive.

David Smith and France’s Tours will not advance, although they went 1-1 against Russia’s Belogorie Belgorod. On March 2, Tours beat Belgorod, 25-23, 22-25, 20-25, 25-17, 15-13. Smith scored 14 points on six kills, a match-high six blocks and two aces.

CEV CUP

Erik Shoji, Paul Lotman and Germany’s Berlin Recycling Volleys will advance to the final phase of the CEV Cup after winning a golden set against Finland’s VaLePa Sastamala on March 3. Host Berlin won the match 25-22, 32-30, 25-19 and won the golden set 15-11. Shoji was credited with 13 receptions, 69 percent positive. Lotman scored 13 points on 10 kills and three aces. He was credited with 36 receptions, 56 percent positive.

Max Holt and Russia’s Dinamo Moscow also advanced after winning a golden set against Aaron Russell and Italy’s Sir Safety Perugia. Visiting Perugia beat Moscow on March 2, 25-21, 25-18, 23-25, 25-15. However, Moscow, who won their first match, 3-0, won the golden set 15-13. Russell scored 23 points on 19 kills, one block and a match-high three aces. Holt scored seven points on four kills and a match-high three blocks.

In the semifinals, which start March 15, Berlin will play Belgium’s Knack Roeselare and Moscow will play Russia’s Gazprom-Ugra Surgut.

CEV CHALLENGE CUP

Taylor Sander and Italy’s Calzedonia Verona have advanced to the semifinals of the Challenge Cup after two straight wins over France’s Arago de Sete. On March 2, Verona beat Sete, 21-25, 25-20, 25-23, 23-25, 15-13. Sander scored 17 points on 16 kills and one block. He was credited with 57 receptions, 54 percent positive. Verona will play Portugal’s Benfica Lisboa in the semifinals, which begin March 16.