June 8, 2000
MPSF Tournament: The Stanford men's volleyball team wrapped up the 2000 season with a first round loss to second-seeded Pepperdine in the first round of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament. The match, which was played in Malibu, Calif., went to a decisive fifth game before the Waves pulled out the win 15-10, 15-8, 14-16, 13-15, 15-13. Freshman Curt Toppel concluded the match with 35 kills on 96 attempts, while recording a team-high 14 digs. The loss was the second to Pepperdine during the 2000 season, the previous being a four game loss (15-10, 14-16, 15-11, 15-12) at Maples Pavilion on Feb. 17. Freshman Billy Strickland tallied 13 kills and 10 digs, while freshman Jon Palacios added 13 kills. Sophomore Marcus Skacel was the fourth Cardinal with double-digit kills, recording 11.
National Statistics: Freshman middle blocker Curt Toppel concluded the season as the nation's leader in kills-per game at 8.65. Toppel was the leader in kills-per game average in all ten ranking periods. His average was helped by the fact that he had 30 or more kills in 11 matches this season, including two matches with 48 kills and a 50 kill performance in Stanford's upset over then-No. 1 Long Beach State. In digs per game, sophomore outside hitter Marcus Skacel finished tied for No. 20 in digs-per game average at 2.32. Skacel had been as high as No. 10, at 2.57, in the fifth edition of the NCAA national rankings. Junior setter Josh Lukens also finished the season as the national leader in assists-per game. Lukens, who is the only player to appear in all 82 Cardinal games this season, dished-out a career-high 20.07 assists-per game.
Ranking Report: Stanford finished the year ranked a season-high No. 11 in the USA Today/AVCA Top 15 released on May 2 by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Stanford opened the season ranked No. 14 and reached a then-season-high No. 12 on Jan. 18. UCLA concluded the year as the No. 1 team in the nation after capturing the NCAA title.
Stanford Records: Several Stanford players made an impact on the Cardinal single-season, match and career record lists. Curt Toppel's 50 kill performance against Long Beach State is third best for a single match, while his 48 kill matches are tied for sixth best. Toppel's 8.65 kills-per game average place's him ahead of Dave Goss on the career and single-season lists. Goss had a 6.56 average for his career, with a season-high average of 7.52 in 1992. Josh Lukens now has 3,624 assists for his career, ranking third behind Canyon Ceman's (1991-94) 5,912 and Stewart Chong's (1994-97) 5,144 assists. However, Lukens now holds the single-season record for assists at 20.07, overtaking Ceman's 1994 average of 19.57. Marcus Skacel is sixth on the single-season digs list at 2.32 per game and tied for fifth on the all-time list with a 1.80 average.
Quick Notes: Junior setter Josh Lukens became the third player in Cardinal history to reach the 3,000 assist plateau after recording 162 assists in two matches against Hawaii on March 24-25. Lukens (3,624 assists) joins Canyon Ceman (5,912) and Stewart Chong (5,144) as the only players to reach the milestone... The Cardinal had seven freshmen that played 29 or more games, with four making a significant number of starts. Seth Ring and Jon Palacios, both redshirt freshmen, led all freshmen with 69 games played... Sophomore outside hitter Marcus Skacel recorded a career-high 34 kills against Hawaii (3/24).
All-America Selection: Freshman Curt Toppel became the first player since the 1998 season to earn All-America honors from the American Volleyball Coaches Association. The AVCA chose Toppel, one of only three freshman to be selected as a member of the All-America Second Team. Andy Witt (1997-98) earned First Team All-America honors in 1998.
All-MPSF Selections: Freshman Curt Toppel and junior Marcus Skacel were each honored by the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation for their performances during the 2000 season. The MPSF named Toppel Freshman of the Year and placed him on the All-MPSF First Team after leading the Cardinal to a fourth place finish in the MPSF Pacific Division with a 9-10 record. Lukens secured All-MPSF Honorable Mention recognition, the first time in his career he has been selected All-MPSF.
Freshman Class: The Cardinal had several freshmen take significant roles in during the past season. Following are the final statistics for the seven first year players:
Player G K K/G E TA PCT A SA D BL Curt Toppel 72 623 8.65 200 1,201 .352 18 15 139 61 Paul Bocage 31 85 2.74 31 163 .331 3 4 21 37 Kyle Strache 58 119 2.05 42 252 .306 3 6 34 60 Billy Strickland 73 126 1.73 63 305 .207 9 6 84 31 Jon Palacios 73 103 1.41 21 189 .434 3 19 54 38 Seth Ring 72 85 1.18 49 210 .171 14 2 142 20 William Curtis 30 27 0.90 17 71 .141 4 0 9 3
Head Coach Ruben Nieves: In his 10th season with the Cardinal, Ruben Nieves is Stanford's all-time winningest coach with a 153-70 (.690) record. In 1997, Nieves led the Cardinal to its first NCAA national championship en route to AVCA and Volleyball Magazine National Coach of the Year honors. Nieves has led the Cardinal to three seasons (1992, '94, '97), including a school-best 27-3 mark in 1997. Against MPSF opponents, Nieves has a combined record of 112-53 (.679) and his teams have captured conference titles in 1993, '95 and '97. Entering the 2000 season, Nieves ranked fifth on the AVCA all-time win percentage list (.714) and 13th all-time in career victories with 145.