July 27, 2009
PUNE, India -
Stanford's Brad Lawson and Erik Shoji will begin play this week at the FIVB Men's Junior Volleyball World Championship.
Lawson and Shoji, who will be sophomores this fall, are among 12 members of the United States team, which opens play Friday (local time) against Belarus at Pune's Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex. The tournament is an under-21 event.
The U.S., coached by BYU's Shawn Patchell, joins Belarus, Tunisia and India in Pool A, one of four four-team pools in the 16-team event. The top two in each group advance.
The second round will consist of round-robin play with eight teams playing in two four-team pools. The top two in each pool advance to the semifinals. The championship final will be Aug. 9.
This will be the fifth time that the United States has qualified for the event. In 1977 and 1981, the United States placed seventh. After a 24-year absence, the USA returned in 2005, posting a record of 2-5 and finished eighth. In 2007, the United States placed seventh.
The Americans earned a spot in the 2009 championships with a third-place finish in the NORCECA Men's Junior Continental Championship in El Salvador in July 2008, posting a 4-2 record during the tournament.
Lawson and Shoji are among seven players from that bronze-medal winning team returning for the U.S. Shoji was named Best Defender, Best Receiver, and Best Libero at the NORCECA Championship.
Shoji and Lawson were starters for a Stanford side that went 21-11 and finished with a No. 6 national ranking, the program's highest since 2003.
Shoji, a libero, was a first-team All-American and was named national Newcomer of the Year, as selected by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Shoji set a national record for digs in a season (447) and led the nation in digs per set (3.92).
Lawson, an outside hitter, was a third-team All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation selection and was the only Stanford player to start all 32 matches. He finished with 400 kills, the highest total for a freshman in school history in the rally-scoring era (since 2001).
U.S. first-round schedule
Friday, July 31:
U.S. vs. Belarus (Thursday, 9:30 p.m. PT)
Saturday, Aug. 1:
U.S. vs. Tunisia (Saturday, 1:30 a.m. PT)
Sunday, Aug. 2:
U.S. vs. India (Sunday, 5:30 a.m. PT)
Information on the tournament, and links to live scoring, can be found at: