Kawika Shoji, Erik Shoji and Brad Lawson were members of the Stanford men's volleyball national championship team of 2010. Now they are hoping to help the United States win a gold medal at the World University Games, which begin Friday in Shenzhen, China.
"The team motto is 'The Tradition Continues,'" Team USA coach Gordon Mayforth said. "The USA has had a long tradition of doing well at this event. When you read the players and names on the list, I think we should expect to be in the mix."
In addition to three Stanford players, the WUG team is heavily populated with Mountain Pacific Sports Federation players, including USC's Tri Bourne, Riley McKibbin and Murphy Troy; UC Irvine's Carson Clark and Cory Yoder; UCLA's Weston Dunlap and Thomas Amberg; Long Beach State's Ryan Meehan; and UC Santa Barbara's Jeff Menzel.
"The training camp was very competitive and we are pleased with the team that we are taking to Japan and China," Mayforth said. "The setters (Shoji and McKibbin) are both very experienced, and run a fast offense. Our outside hitters (Bourne, Lawson, Menzel and Yoder) are a great mix of athletic talent, fire power, as well as skill. Finally the libero Erik Shoji is a gifted player at his position and we expect him to make some plays."
The U.S. last sent a men's team to the World University Game in 2007, when it finished third in Bangkok, Thailand. In 2005, the U.S. placed 11th in Izmir, Turkey. In 2003 the team won the bronze in Daegu, Korea.
The U.S. team will begin play in Shenzhen on Aug. 12 against Mexico (Aug. 11 in the Pacific Time Zone). Also in the U.S. pool are Turkey, Czech Republic, the United Arab Emirates and Thailand.