Shoji, Lawson make U.S. team
Incoming Punahou senior Erik Shoji and incoming Iolani junior Brad Lawson yesterday were named to the 12-member USA Volleyball Boys Youth National Team, according to the the team's head coach Tino Reyes.
"They're both very good volleyball players who have come from great high school and club volleyball programs," Reyes, the associate coach for the Hawaii men's team, said. "We're expecting great things from them.
"Obviously, I had to recuse myself during part of the selection process, since they're from Hawaii, but the USA Volleyball staff really likes both of them and they earned their spots against tough competition."
The team will continue to train at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y, before flying to the Dominican Republic on Aug. 20 for the NORCECA Youth Championships. The team is trying to qualify for next year's world championship.
While Shoji, son of UH Wahine coach Dave Shoji, was a proven quantity through the USAV High Performance pipeline, Lawson is a relative unknown. But the 6-foot-6 outside hitter "just blossomed here," Reyes said. "I almost had to beg to get Brad a tryout here but once people saw how good he was, they knew it was the right decision.
"Both of them had a good chance to play a lot and both have bright futures in college. Erik will be one of the most sought-after liberos and, in another year, so will Brad at outside."
The two were among 18 players who have been training for the past two weeks at the OTC.
Note: Erik Shoji's older brother, Kawika, is currently in Monterrey, Mexico, with the USA Men's Junior National Team. The U.S. is currently 4-0 in the NORCECA Championship.
Shoji, a recent Iolani graduate headed for Stanford, is one of three Hawaii players on the roster. Also on the team are Punahou senior Spencer McLachlin and Kamehameha senior Jordan Inafuku.