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No. 4 Men's Volleyball Heads To Southern California
Courtesy: Stanford Athletics  
Release: 01/23/2001

Jan. 23, 2001

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This Week's Action

The No. 4 Stanford men's volleyball team (3-0, 1-0 MPSF) embarks on its first road trip of the season, traveling to Southern California for a pair of MPSF matches. The Cardinal will face No. 11 Cal State Northridge (3-3, 0-1) on Fri., Jan. 27 at 7:00 p.m., then will battle No. 2 UC Santa Barbara (3-0, 1-0) in a 4:00 p.m. match on Sat., Jan. 28.

The Nieves File

Ruben Nieves begins his eleventh season as Stanford's head coach. The winningest coach in program history, he has amassed a 165-70 (.702) record on the Farm, including a 122-63 (.659) mark in MPSF play. In 1997, he guided the Cardinal to a 27-3 record and the NCAA championship en route to being named the Volleyball Magazine and AVCA National Coach of the Year. A two-year letterwinner at Stanford in1979-80, Nieves previously served as an assistant under former Cardinal head man Fred Sturm from 1987 to 1990.

A Cardinal Tint to the National Rankings

Stanford's victory over then-No. 1 Pepperdine on Sunday vaulted the Cardinal to the No. 4 spot in the latest USA Today/AVCA Coaches Top 15 poll. Stanford tallied 181 points to move up from the No. 8 ranking it had on Jan. 16.

Crashing the Waves

Sophomore outside hitter Curt Toppel had a match-high 30 kills and Stanford rallied from a 2-1 deficit in games and a 10-6 hole in game five to upset No. 1 Pepperdine 30-28, 25-30, 26-30, 30-28, 15-13 at Maples Pavilion. The Cardinal fought back from a pair of deficits - first winning game four 30-28 to force a game five, then charging back from being down 10-6 and 13-11 to take game five and the match. Stanford scored the final four points of the match as Toppel and Marcus Skacel each had kills and Pepperdine attackers committed a pair of errors, including an attempt off the antenna on match point. Toppel (30 kills, 10 digs) and Skacel (19 kills, 12 digs) each had double-doubles, while Brett Youngberg had 10 kills and Billy Strickland contributed a team-high six blocks.

No. 1? Not in our House!

Sunday's victory over Pepperdine marked the second time in two years that Stanford has knocked off a No. 1 team in Maples Pavilion. On April 1, 2000, the Cardinal rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat top-ranked Long Beach State 5-15, 7-15, 15-11, 15-8, 15-11.

Home Cookin'

Stanford opened the season with a three-game homestand, posting a perfect 3-0 mark. The Cardinal breezed through D'Youville and No. 14 Ball State without dropping a game, then defeated No. 1 Pepperdine in a five-game match last Sunday. Since returning to Maples Pavilion prior to the 2000 season, Stanford has compiled a 9-4 home record.

Lucky Number Seven

Stanford opened the 2001 campaign by winning each of its first seven games - sweeping both D'Youville and No. 14 Ball State before taking game one against No. 1 Pepperdine. Although the Waves won two straight games, the Cardinal bounced back with victories in games four and five and now are 9-2 over its first 11 games.

Double Your Pleasure

Outside hitters Curt Toppel and Marcus Skacel gave Stanford its first two double-double efforts of the season when both tallied 10 or more kills and 10 or more digs against Pepperdine. Toppel complemented 10 digs with a match and season-high 30 kills, while Skacel pounded 19 kills with a match-best 12 digs. Toppel, a sophomore, now has five career double-doubles, while Skacel recorded his ninth in the third match of his junior campaign.

Just Win, Baby

Stanford's victory over top-ranked Pepperdine on Sunday was actually a statistical oddity. The Waves outhit the Cardinal .294-.281, dug more balls (42-40), and had 21 team blocks to the hosts' 11. Yet, Stanford - which did have more service aces (3-2) and more kills (81-77) then Pepperdine - walked away with the "W."

Super Subs

Stanford's victory over No. 1 Pepperdine was a total team effort, as the Cardinal recevied excellent performances from its three reserves. Middle blocker Paul Bocage and outside hitters William Curtis and Kyle Strache combined for nine kills with just two errors in 17 attempts (.412) and had three total blocks. With Stanford down 2-1, Bocage entered in game four and contributed four of his eight kills and a block assist to help spur a 30-28 Cardinal victory.

On the Attack

The Cardinal is dominating the opposition on the attacking end through the first three matches. Stanford's .376 hitting percentage is more than double the .187 mark posted by D'Youville, Ball State and Pepperdine, while the Cardinal has 46 more kills (181-135) in only nine more attempts (335-326). Finally, Stanford has committed just 55 errors, while its opponents have erred 74 times.

The .400 Club

Of the six Stanford players that have at least 20 total attempts, four have a hitting percentage of .400 or better. Sophomore outside hitter Billy Strickland leads the way with 21 kills against four errors in 34 total attempts for a .500 hitting percentage. Sophomore Curt Toppel is hitting at a .434 clip (55 k, 12 e, 99 ta), while sophomore Paul Bocage checks in at .417 (13 k, 3 e, 24 ta) and senior Brett Youngberg boasts a .415 mark (24 k, 7 e, 41 ta).

Schedule Tidbits

Stanford will certainly be battle-tested entering the MPSF Playoffs, as the Cardinal will play 13 matches against teams that finished 2000 ranked in the top 15 nationally according to the USA Today/AVCA poll. Included on Stanford's 25-game docket are matches against defending national champion UCLA (twice), perennial power Pepperdine (twice), and regional foes Arizona, Long Beach State (twice) and UC Santa Barbara (twice).

Rule Changes

NCAA men's volleyball will have a different look in 2001 as three new rules come into play: rally scoring to 30, let serve and the international pursuit rule. Rather than the traditional, side-out scoring (in which a team can score only on its serve) to 15, games will now be played using rally scoring to 30. In this method, a team scores a point each time it records a sideout, regardless of serve. A team must still win by two, and the match is still the best three out of five games. With the let serve rule, if a serve hits the net and deflects onto the opponents' side, the ball is in play. The international pursuit rule is in effect if a team's first touch goes out of bounds on the opponent's side, as a player is allowed to cross over and return the ball to his side. Also, the libero - a back-row defensive specialist - enters its second year.

Scouting the Matadors

No. 11 Cal State Northridge enters the week at 3-3 overall and 0-1 in MPSF action. The Matadors opened the year with two consecutive wins, however, they have since dropped three of their last four, including a three-game loss to USC in the conference opener. The Matadors are led offensively by outside hitters Joe Nargi, who has 79 kills (4.16 per game), and Eckhard Walter, who has pounded 76 kills with a .365 hitting percentage. Setter John Baxter averages 12.59 assists per game, while libero Doug English has 30 digs. Head coach John Campbell is in his fifth season at the helm.

Scouting the Gauchos

No. 3 UC Santa Barbara, currently 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the MPSF, will host Cal Baptist on Wednesday before entertaining Stanford on Saturday. The Gauchos already have posted a victory over defending national champion UCLA, having knocked off the Bruins 3-2 in the championship match of the Elephant Bar Tournament. Three Gaucho players have totaled over 20 kills, as Ben Koski and Andy Rivera each have 26 while Dave Kohl has nailed 23. Middle blocker Anders Bengstssn has averaged 2.12 kills per game. Head coach Ken Preston has amassed a 406-263 (.605) record in his 23 years at UCSB.


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