AVCA All-America teams
April 26, 2012
LOS ANGELES -
Erik Shoji became the first player in the 22 years of American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America selections to be named to the first team all four seasons of his collegiate career.
Shoji, a libero from Honolulu, was one of three Stanford seniors named to AVCA All-America teams Thursday, joining three-time first-team choice Brad Lawson and second-team setter Evan Barry, who becomes the 23rd All-America in program history.
Only 1988 Olympic gold medalist Scott Fortune and future beach star Matt Fuerbringer were four-time All-Americans among Stanford players. But no Cardinal had received first-team honors all four years, whether from the AVCA or another organization.
"He's the greatest libero in collegiate volleyball history," Stanford coach John Kosty said. "He owns every record, he's the only four-time first-team All-America. He's incredible."
Official NCAA records only have been kept in men's volleyball since 2009, but Shoji's 1,375 career digs and single-season high of 446 digs in 2009 are believed to be the most all-time, including sideout and rally-scoring eras.
"It's an honor," Shoji said. "I've had the goal for a while, since freshman year. To be able to accomplish it is awesome. But credit goes out to my teammates. I definitely wouldn't get a lot of the digs that I get without them."
This season, Shoji is third in the nation with a 2.66 digs per set (277 total), and is second on the team in assists, with 49. His diving dig-assist against an unblocked 6-foot-9 Pepperdine hitter on Saturday was spectacular, as was his kick-assist against UC San Diego in 2009 that was No. 2 on ESPN SportsCenter's Plays of the Day.
"It's a well-deserved award," Kosty said. "His ability to pass and play defense, and his consistency, is remarkable. It's been an honor to coach him for four years."
Lawson, a 6-7 outside hitter and close friend of Shoji while growing up in Honolulu, now is among four Stanford players to receive at least three first-team honors, along with Shoji, Fortune, and Fuerbringer.
Lawson, who is averaging 4.07 kills per set and has a hitting percentage of .335, recently broke two Stanford career rally-scoring era records, in kills and service aces. Lawson's totals, going into Thursday night's Mountain Pacific Sports Federation tournament semifinal against BYU at USC's Galen Center, are 1,788 kills, and 126 aces.
"Brad is one of those special players that do not come around that often," Kosty said. "He came from a role-player with a senior-laden team and rose to the occasion to win a national championship in 2010, and now is the catalyst and leader of this team. He's a great volleyball player and an even more impressive person."
Barry leads the nation in assists per set (12.04) and has set the Cardinal to a national-leading 13.96 kills per set and a .343 hitting percentage, the second-highest in the nation.
"Evan Barry has really stepped up," Kosty said. "He has learned the game of volleyball over the past four years. This season, he's really worked hard to get himself and the team to the position we're in. The recognition is something he truly deserves."